A car bomb blast ripped through the General Santander Police Academy in Bogota, Colombia, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens more on Thursday. The explosion destroyed windows in adjacent buildings and sparked a fire according to local media reports. Ambulances have rushed to the chaotic scene of the blast.
Colombian President Ivan Duque announced that he will return to Bogota immediately due to what he called “an act of terrorism.” It is currently unclear who was behind the attack.
Duque took to Twitter to denounce the attack, writing, “All Colombians reject terrorism and are united to confront it.”
Authorities say they have identified the attacker. Chief Prosecutor Nestor Martinz says the man drove a pick-up truck carrying 80 kilos (176 pounds) of highly-explosive pentolite to the academy at 9:30 a.m. (local time) before detonating the vehicle.
The attack is the largest in Colombia since 2006. The country suffered many such attacks over decades of civil war, which calmed considerably when its previous president, Juan Manuel Santos, signed a peace agreement with the guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016.
President Ivan Duque suspended peace talks with the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN) upon assuming office. There has been speculation that the ELN may have been behind Thursday’s attack, though the group has never staged an attack of this scale before.
FARC, now a political party, condemned the attack as “a provocation against the political solution to the conflict.” FARC representative Pastor Alape Lascarro tweeted, “It tries to close possibilities of an agreement with ELN, delegitimize social mobilization, and favor war-like sectors.”