Colombian diocese condemns car bombing at army base

Colombia Flag Credit Polit cnico Grancolombiano Departamento de Comunicaciones via Flickr CC BY NC 20 CNA 8 27 15 The flag of Colombia. | Politicnico Grancolombiano Departamento de Comunicaciones via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Diocese of Cúcuta has condemned Wednesday’s attack carried out against the 30th Brigade of the National Army, and warned that hatred and revenge create a maelstrom of violence.

A car bomb exploded June 16 at the military base in Cúcuta, injuring 36 people.

Bishop José Libardo Garcés Monsalve of Malaga-Soata, who is also serving as apostolic administrator of Cúcuta, said that the Cúcuta diocese "resolutely rejects all acts of violence" and that the attack causes "terror, pain, uncertainty and mistrust in the Colombian people."

"We convey our deepest and sincere feelings of solidarity and closeness to the families and victims of the attack, and we have already entrusted their care and speedy recovery to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the patriarch Saint Joseph," he added.

Bishop Garcés made "an urgent call to the perpetrators of these events" to not  get carried away by the whirlwind of violence that "is stirred up with hatred and revenge, and rather with the participation of all, we may find a way out through dialogue, forgiveness and reconciliation.”

May Cúcuta “continue to be the place where fraternity and charity, love and respect for life are our greatest bastions in the achievement of peace. and the progress of the communities present in this border region,” he prayed.

The bishop also invited all people of good will "to pray ever more earnestly and with perseverance," asking God to keep Colombia "in the heart of his Son, a place where you learn to love and forgive."

The commander of the Army's 2nd Division, General Marco Evangelista Pinto, confirmed to the Colombian news outlet Noticias Caracol that the explosions occurred inside the garrison, very close to the entrance, mainly affecting the barracks and offices.

In a statement to the press, Defense Minister Diego Molano "vehemently condemned this vile act that intended to inflict bodily harm on our soldiers." Molana said the initial hypothesis is that the National Liberation Army, a left-wing guerrilla group, “is behind this insane and vile act.”

"The involvement of dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is also a subject of the investigation," he added.

In January 2019 a car bomb attack at a police academy in Bogota killed 21. A vehicle carrying 175 pounds of pentolite, a military-grade explosive, accelerated into the General Santander police academy after being stopped at a checkpoint. The pentolite detonated when the SUV struck a wall. The academy was holding a promotion ceremony for cadets.

Car bombings were once not uncommon in the Colombian conflict, which has been ongoing among the government, right-wing paramilitaries, and left-wing guerrillas since 1964.

The conflict has abated since a 2016 peace deal between the government and the largest guerrilla group, the FARC.

The Colombian president has not taken up peace talks with the ELN.

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