Colombian authorities arrested five suspects who they say were contracted by FARC rebels in a May bombing meant to assassinate a former interior minister.
According to a report by Colombia’s W Radio, Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre said the suspects had been contracted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to commit the May 15 attempted assassination of former Interior Minister Fernando Londoño in Bogota. Montealegre claimed the five individuals are “common criminals, urban terrorists that do not belong to the [guerrilla group].” The FARC reportedly offered payment of more than one billion Colombian pesos, or about $550,000.
El Heraldo reported that Montealegre said the FARC’s Teofilo Forero column is suspected of contracting Cali and Bogota criminal groups in the bombing, which killed Londoño’s driver and bodyguard and wounded another 48.
For his part, National Police director Jose Roberto Leon Riano said an intelligence investigation has determined that a Cali gang called “El Parche de Zuley” could be responsible for the bombing, and that authorities are looking for additional suspects in Cauca.
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The implication of the FARC in the bombing is a new development, as authorities were initially reticent to blame the guerrillas for the incident. While Bogota’s police chief immediately insisted the FARC was responsible following the attack, for instance, just days later he was pressured to retract his statements.
But there are still reasons to doubt the FARC’s involvement. It is true that Londoño traditionally called for a hardline approach to the group, protesting against president Juan Manuel Santos’ recent negotiations with the guerrillas. However, killing a prominent figure of Colombia’s political right would be unlikely to sway any of its members to relax their positions. An attack by members of the political right, on the other hand, could strengthen their own position, which appears to have been increasingly marginalized in the face of Santos’ peaceful overtures to the FARC.
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