Three women were killed and nine wounded after an explosive device detonated in a restroom in a busy upscale shopping center in Colombia’s capital on Saturday.
The Andino shopping mall in an exclusive area of Bogota was evacuated after the blast, which occurred around 5pm local time (2200 GMT) in the women’s toilet. The commercial centre was packed with people buying gifts ahead of Father’s Day celebrations on Sunday.
Police said the device was placed in a toilet bowl in the second-floor restroom. President Juan Manuel Santos denounced the attack and promised to bring those responsible to justice.
“We won’t let terrorism frighten us,” Santos said from inside the shopping center.
“Bogotanos should feel safe and protected. We won’t let our guard down but we mustn’t panic. That’s what terrorists want.”
One of the victims was a 23-year-old French woman who had been volunteering in a poor area of the city, Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa told reporters.
Bomb squad specialists combed the area for additional devices.Santos ordered an investigation into the incident. Sniffer dogs still check cars at parking facilities in the capital.
A peace accord signed last year with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s biggest guerrilla group, raised confidence bomb attacks might cease.
The country’s second-largest insurgent group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), in February exploded a bomb in Bogota, injuring dozens of police.
The Marxist ELN, currently negotiating peace with the government, in a tweet condemned the attack against civilians.
Authorities said there have been threats of attacks in Bogota by the so-called Gulf Clan, a group of former right-wing paramilitary fighters who traffic drugs.