Colombia calls high alert after bomb kills five

Sunday, January 27, 2002

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Security forces went on high alert in the capital of Bogota after a downtown bomb killed four police officers and a 5-year-old girl. Two other devices were deactivated.

Mayor Antanas Mockus blamed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, for Friday's attacks.

"This shows the decision of the guerrillas to bring terrorism to a higher level ... and we have to prepare a response," Mockus said.

Mockus called a special security meeting Friday afternoon. Afterward, he said officials fear the violence may continue through the March congressional elections.

"These next two months may be very complicated," Mockus said. "The climate in March will be particularly difficult."

The rebel army has claimed responsibility for a wave of attacks on 30 electricity towers and a reservoir around the country in recent weeks, but hasn't commented on the bombs in Bogota.

Friday's bombing injured more than two dozen people, including infants aged 4 months and 2 months, health officials said.

The bomb was attached to a bicycle parked in front of the Josefa restaurant, a popular lunch spot for police stationed across the street. Packed with 4.4 pounds of explosives, it blasted more than four pounds of shrapnel into the surrounding southern Bogota neighborhood, police said.

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