FARC Kidnap Colombian Mayoral Candidate; Car Bomb Rattles Popayán While Another Attack Is Thwarted
June 21, 2011 By Andrew OReilly
Political violence in the lead-up to Colombia’s regional elections continued as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group kidnapped a mayoral candidate in the country’s central Meta province.
Edward Castellano, a candidate for Partido de la U, was traveling down a freeway near the village of Nuevo Progreso when he was taken hostage by the FARC. Meta police chief Marco Tulio Avendano had warned all political candidates in the area to report their movements to local police, something Castellano failed to do.
The kidnapping occurred on Sunday, a day after a car bomb wounded 17 people in Colombia’s colonial-era city of Popayán. Thanks to a tip the car bomb, allegedly left by the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, was diverted away from its intended target of a plaza where soccer fans were celebrating a victory.
“Dozens of people would have been killed … it would have been a calamity,” a police officer in Cauca, where Popayán is located. Of the 17 people injured, two were seriously hurt.
Thirty-five homes and 12 motor vehicles were also damaged during the explosion, which knocked out power in parts of Popayán.
Early Tuesday morning, Colombian authorities deactivated another car bomb in the municipality of Corinto. Located in the department of Cauca, a trained dog identified the explosives on the outskirts of the municipality before the bomb was defused.
Saturday’s attack in Popayán is the first car bomb set off in a major Colombian city since last August, when an explosion in a vehicle wounded eight people outside the Caracol broadcast station in Bogotá and caused damage to surrounding buildings.
The attack last August also seemed to be politically motivated, coming only a few days after the inauguration of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Photo: OECD @ Flickr.