- VILLAVICENCIO, Colombia (AP)
- Two bombs exploded in a provincial capital of Colombia Sunday, killing
12 people, wounding dozens and stoking fears that Colombia's civil war
is becoming one of indiscriminate terrorist attacks.
- No one claimed responsibility for the blasts in Villavicencio
shortly after 1 a.m., but police suspected the country's main rebel group,
the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was behind it.
- A small explosive device had gone off minutes earlier,
attracting people who were in bars and restaurants on a warm weekend night.
Then a bomb - located underneath a car parked on the street - blew up,
shredding bodies and causing damage in a four-block-wide area.
- Four people were killed in the first explosion and eight
died in the second blast.
- Two mangled bodies remained uncovered on the street hours
after the bombing as investigators picked through the debris. The blast
heavily damaged several buildings, including the offices of Radio Super,
bars and discos. Several cars were wrecked.
- The rebels have increasingly turned toward civilian targets
since peace talks with the FARC collapsed on Feb. 20, attacking power plants,
reservoirs and bridges. On Friday, another car bomb exploded in the town
of Fuente de Oro, injuring 13 people and damaging 20 businesses.
- In Villavicencio on Sunday, Mary Botias sat on a curbside,
mourning her 22-year-old daughter, Diana Cristina Beltran, who was killed
in the attack while out with friends.
- "I want my baby back," Botias wailed. "She
didn't have anything to do with anything. Why did she have to lose her
- Leonor Castro, 71, said her nephew saved her life by
carrying her out of her bedroom when the smaller device exploded outside
her home. Minutes later the larger bomb went off, destroying her bedroom
and blowing the door onto her bed.
- The Colombian and Uruguayan tennis teams were in the
city, 45 miles southeast of Bogota, for a Davis cup match, but no players
were injured. Colombian team captain Uriel Oquendo said his team was in
a hotel in another part of the city.
- "Thank God, we were relaxing far from the place
of the attack," Oquendo said in a telephone interview. The final matches
began as scheduled later Sunday.
- Residents said they were afraid the two car bombings,
both in Meta province, might herald a new offensive targeting civilians.
The 38-year-old civil war already claims some 3,500 lives every year.
- "This makes us afraid that something even worse
will come," said Lenigh Hillom, her voice trembling as she surveyed
the damage to her marketing business a block away from the bomb.
- The commander of Colombia's national police, Gen. Ernesto
Gilibert, said the FARC appeared to be behind the bombing - but added that
he doubted it was the opening of an offensive of terrorist bombings.
- President Andres Pastrana, who visited the scene, called
the bombers "demented terrorists."
- Authorities asked residents of Villavicencio, the capital
of Meta state, to donate blood for the wounded. They posted a $7,000 reward
for identifying the attackers.
- Meta state police commander Col. Arnulso Oliveros said
the FARC operates in the Villavicencio and has attacked civilians in the
- The city is located in the Andean foothills, between
Bogota and a safe haven that Pastrana had granted to the rebels at the
start of peace talks in 1999.
- Pastrana revoked the sanctuary and canceled the talks
after the FARC hijacked a Colombian airliner and kidnapped a senator who
was on board. Separate peace talks with a smaller rebel group are continuing.
- In another attack, gunmen killed a priest, Juan Ramon
Nunez, in a Roman Catholic church during services Saturday evening in the
southern village of La Argentina. A parishioner was also hit by bullets
and later died of his wounds.
- There was no immediate indication of who might have been
responsible for the killings, which occurred in a region where the FARC
- Colombia's 38-year-old civil war pits the FARC and a
smaller rebel army against a rival paramilitary group and U.S.-backed government