BOGOTA, December 8, 2013 (AFP) – Eight people were killed in a car bombing in Colombia on Saturday which was immediately blamed on leftist FARC rebels currently engaged in peace talks with the government.
President Juan Manuel Santos condemned the blast in the small town of Inza as an “insane terrorist attack.”
The victims — two civilians, a police official and five members of the military — died when a vehicle loaded with explosives blew up as locals prepared for a farmer’s market, the army said in an official statement.
Seven soldiers were wounded in the early morning incident but details on their condition were not released.
The army said the bombing was the work of the FARC’s Sixth Front.
It “clearly shows that the FARC continue to systematically commit acts of terrorism against civilians,” the statement said.
Colombia’s police chief, General Rodolfo Palomino, traveled to Inza and told reporters the attack was “further evidence of indiscriminate FARC terrorism.”
In addition to the two civilians, those killed included an army major, two lieutenants, a sergeant, a soldier and a police sergeant, according to the army statement.
“We are in mourning,” tweeted General Juan Pablo Rodriguez, the commander of Colombia’s armed forces.
The blast occurred as Bogota and the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), established in 1964, attempt to negotiate an agreement to end their near 50-year-old conflict.
Considered Latin America’s longest-running insurgency, the unrest has left hundreds of thousands of dead and displaced more than 4.5 million people.
There was no initial indication whether or to what extent the attack would affect the peace talks under way in the Cuban capital Havana.
At the start of negotiations in November 2012, the Marxist rebels unilaterally declared a ceasefire for two months but lifted it after the Santos government refused to reciprocate.
Arguing that agreeing to a ceasefire would give the FARC a strategic advantage, Santos has instead ordered his forces to step up their actions against the rebels.
So far, agreement has been reached at the talks on two of five topics — agrarian reform and the FARC’s return to political life once a comprehensive peace agreement is reached.
With drug trafficking currently on the negotiating table, issues still to be taken up are reparations for victims of the conflict and disarmament.
Inza is a small and secluded rural town located in the troubled department of Cauca, where the FARC has a strong presence.
As Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC has 7,000 to 8,000 fighters.