A car bomb exploded in the Colombian port town of Buenaventura on Wednesday, killing at least six people and wounding more than 30 in an attack the military suspected was carried out by FARC guerrillas.
The blast destroyed part of the local office of the attorney general in Buenaventura, the country’s largest port that handles half of the country’s coffee exports but is also a major drug trafficking route to the Pacific coast.
Local television images from the city showed wrecked taxis and destroyed store fronts minutes after the blast as residents carried wounded people to hospitals.
“Unfortunately there are six dead,” said Juan Carlos Abadia, governor of Valle del Cauca State where the city is located. “This is an attempt to destabilize and to generate an atmosphere of fear and chaos.”
Armed Forces commander General Freddy Padilla said guerrillas from the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, were suspected in the bombing. But the country’s attorney general said the blast could have been carried out by drug traffickers in retaliation for his office’s investigations.
Violence, bombings and kidnapping from Colombia’s long war has ebbed since President Alvaro Uribe first came to power in 2002 and sent troops to drive back leftist rebels, paramilitaries and cocaine traffickers.
But rebels are still a force in rural areas where they use ambushes, hit-and-run attacks and homemade landmines to harry army and police patrols. The FARC is deeply engaged in drug trafficking and extortion.
The coast near Buenaventura is a key cocaine smuggling point and rebel militias have often bombed and ambushed army and police patrols in the city.
Uribe is popular for his U.S.-backed security drive and he steps down this year after two terms in office. Colombians go to the polls in May to vote for a new president and most candidates are promising to maintain his security policies.
(Reporting by Patrick Markey, Editing by Cynthia Osterman)