A series of bombings in Colombia this past weekend targeted police stations and put civilians at risk. Saturday morning, two assailants riding a motorcycle flung a bomb at the Barranquilla police station. According to CNN, five police officers were killed in the attack, and 42 were injured. Later that night, in Santa Rosa del Sur, a second strike devastated the rural town’s police station, killing two officers and injuring one. Just when it seemed like the violence was over, a third strike Sunday morning targeted the Barranquilla police once more. Witnesses told a local newspaper that the bomb was ejected from a passing taxi.
So what is motivating these violent attacks against Colombian police, and what do they mean for civilians? According to BBC, the attack was likely retribution for increased efforts to combat drug trafficking and organized crime. Colombia’s Office of the Attorney General said a 31-year-old suspect has been arrested. Cristian Camilo Bellon Galindo was charged with five counts of aggravated homicide, and 42 counts of attempted homicide, with the future possibility of charges related to terrorism and explosives.
While an individual arrest has been made, authorities have yet to identify the group responsible for the bombings. According to NY Times, Colombia has a serious problem with leftist militia groups and drug trafficking organizations, either of whom may be responsible. A research group on Colombian conflicts, Fundación Ideas para la Paz, concluded last year that drug trafficking group Clan de Golfo has been expanding in Colombia’s Caribbean coast. On the other hand, the National Liberation Army, a leftist militia, has claimed responsibility for the first strike in Barranquilla. Colombian authorities have yet to conclude who is actually responsible for these heinous crimes.
Aside from the lives of Colombian police officers, these attacks seriously threaten the well being of Colombian civilians. When the protectors of the people must be burdened by protecting themselves, anyone could wreak havoc in the city, and no one would bat an eye. Growth in Colombia and South America as a whole has been stunted by organized crime. If people are afraid to leave their houses, why would they do something as silly as invest in a small business? If Colombia wants to see prosperity, it must first solve the issue of security for its citizens. This may be easier said than done, but a country that can find Pablo Escobar surely is capable of the impossible.
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