The Colombian government announced on June 24 that eight people had been arrested earlier in the day in connection with the June 17 bombing carried out at a Bogotá mall; a ninth suspect was detained the following day. All nine are believed to belong to the leftist People’s Revolutionary Movement (MRP) and will be indicted on terrorism and homicide charges, among others. Some are believed to have connections to urban wings of the leftist ELN guerrilla group (National Liberation Army).
The group has been known to carry out low-intensity bombings in the capital in the past. At least 14 incidents have been attributed to the MRP in Bogotá and in the city of Pereira since 2015 but these incidents typically target empty buildings (for example early in the morning or late at night) and rarely if ever result in fatalities. It is possible that the explosive was not intended to detonate at a time when the shopping center was open to the public. The MRP has publically denounced the bombing and has denied responsibility.
The attack occurred in a women’s restroom in the in the Centro Andino shopping center (El Chico neighborhood) in Bogotá, killing three people and injuring nine others. President Juan Manuel Santos had indicated the attack may have been an attempt to derail the implementation of the peace agreement between the government and the (demobilizing) FARC guerrilla group. Both the FARC and the ELN have also condemned the attack.
While Colombia is no stranger to bombings and other violence, deadly attacks are rare in the capital and attacks against purely civilian targets, such as a shopping mall, have been relatively unheard of. Violence carried out by the country’s numerous armed groups (leftist guerrillas, organized crime groups, narcotraffickers) typically target security forces, infrastructure, and the fossil fuels industry.
Individuals throughout Colombia are advised to report any suspicious activity or objects to the relevant authorities. Due to the presence of armed groups, many Western governments advise against travel to various regions of the country, particularly rural zones.