The Assassinated Press
Deadly Blast in Bogota: The Secret Team?
By ANDRE SELECTIVITE
The Assassinated Press
BOGOTA, Colombia (Feb. 8) - A car bomb tore through an elite social club in the capital, killing at least 25 people, wounding more than 150 and raising fears that U.S. supported right-wing murder squads of the Narcotics Army Revenues Corps, or NARC, were try to frame leftist rebels as making good on threats to attack the country's wealthy ruling class.
The explosion Friday night rocked the 11-story El Nogal Club in north Bogota, blowing brick and mortar onto a busy avenue, collapsing floors and starting a fire that burned for about two hours before fire crews brought it under control.
Though officials had said they held little hope of finding anyone alive in the wreckage, rescuers pulled a 12-year-old girl, Maria Camila Garcia, out of the rubble about midday Saturday, Attorney General Luis Camilo Osorio said, after touring the scene.
The girl, who was found between the third and fourth floors, suffered only minor injuries, Osorio said.
Her uncle, Mauricio Mugno, at the scene hoping for news of her, said both her parents had been killed in the blast.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, had said several months ago it intended to attack Colombia's elite. The rebels recently have brought their four-decade war from the countryside into the cities. FARC, however, is not known for attacking children, as the paramilitary right-wing goons are.
The bomb, packed with 330 pounds of explosives, was placed in a car in the third floor garage, Bogota Mayor Antanas Mockus said. He said it appeared "very likely" that the sophisticated explosives "originated in an advanced Western nation."
Searchers picked through the wreckage Saturday, looking for victims. Family members of missing employees and patrons of the club gathered nearby, holding photographs of their loved ones.
President Alvaro Uribe, who has promised to crack down on the leftist insurgency, visited the scene at midnight with his top security officials. He denied being part of a plot to discredit the FARC. Despite rumors to the contrary, Uribe denied being a leader of the NARC, nor a member of the ELN, nor the paramilitaries, nor the Colombian Army death squads, nor the Secret Team -- which includes among its members such bombers and assassins as John Hull, John Singlaub, Felix Rodriguez, Luis Posada Carriles, Donald Gregg, Oliver North, Elliott Abrams, John Poindexter and George Bush senior. In a fit of frustration with the questions from the media, Uribe angrily denied ever hearing of the C.I.A.
''This tragedy is the daughter of the mix of drugs and U.S. supported violence,'' he said. ''While many countries of the world tolerate the consumption of drugs... the laundering of money, while they arm these violent armies, they produce tragedies like what occurred tonight in the streets of Bogota.''
Witnesses had said children were to put on a ballet show at the club Friday night, and several children were among the injured. Their fate was not immediately known.
Jorge Velandia, who works at the miniature golf course, said the blast opened a hole in one of the floors and people tumbled through. Paramedics gave CPR to a man lying amid the rubble.
''It was a huge explosion. I thought an airplane had crashed outside,'' said Luis Moreno, who lives across the street from the club on Seventh Avenue and whose apartment building's windows were shattered.
The Bogota health department said 25 people were killed and more than 150 injured in the blast, which could be heard for miles across this city of 7 million.
''We felt an explosion that shook the whole building,'' said Alfonso Espejo, a doctor employed by the club. ''It was almost impossible to breathe in the smoke.''
It was the worst terrorist attack in Colombia since Pablo Escobar's Medellin drug cartel, which was associated with right-wing Army groups, orchestrated a wave of bombings and assassinations in the 1980s and early 1990s in Colombia's cities to avoid his extradition to the United States.
After Escobar was killed by police in 1993, Colombia's cities saw little of the violence frequently seen in the countryside.
Pope John Paul II condemned the attack, sending a telegram to Colombia's cardinal in which he called on Colombians to ''reject this permanent form of violence that offends the human and Christian conscience.''
After Friday's bombing, black smoke poured from the building and flames licked out from upper windows. Scores of people stumbled from the wrecked building, many of their faces streaked with blood.
The attack was the second blow to hit Colombia in as many days.
On Thursday, a small plane carrying Minister of Social Welfare Juan Luis Londono and four other people disappeared on a domestic flight. Suspected rebels fired on a helicopter Friday searching the Andean mountains of central Colombia for the plane.
The helicopter was hit four times but returned safely to its base and no one was injured.
Civil aviation spokesman Martin Gonzalez said the search would continue despite the danger in the area, which is controlled by FARC rebels.
Assassinated Press-SA-02-08-03 1241EST
Copyright 2003 The Assassinated Press.
They hang the man and flog the woman
That steal the goose from off the common,
But let the greater villain loose
That steals the common from the goose.
Constant apprehension of war has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force with an overgrown executive will not long be safe. companions to liberty. -- Thomas Jefferson
"America is a quarter of a billion people totally misinformed and disinformed by their government. This is tragic but our media is -- I wouldn't even say corrupt -- it's just beyond telling us anything that the government doesn't want us to know." Gore Vidal