6 dead, 20 wounded in new Colombia attack
Friday, February 3, 2012
VILLA RICA, Colombia (AP) — At least six people were killed and more than 20 wounded Thursday in an attack with homemade mortars on the police station in this western town, the regional police chief said.
The dead included the police post’s commander and five civilians, said Cauca state police chief Col. Ricardo Alarcon.
The attack came a day after a bomb planted in a tricycle killed nine people and injured another 76 outside a police station in the Pacific port of Tumaco.
Leftist rebels are active in both areas and their arsenals include homemade mortars, though Alarcon said it was premature to assign blame for Thursday’s attack in this town of 15,000 people about 15 miles southeast of Cali, the country’s third-largest city.
Colombia’s defense minister earlier said rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in league with a drug-trafficking gang were behind the Tumaco attack.
Col. Alarcon told the Associated Press that 35 police officers were in station when it was attacked. He said and least three mortars were fired at the station from a moving pickup truck about 150 feet away.
Among the victims was a 3-year-old girl and a 19-year-old woman, according to the state health chief, Oscar Ospina.
This week’s attacks were the most serious affecting civilians since a car bomb killed six people and wounded more than 30 in March 2010 in the Pacific port of Buenaventura.
Like Tumaco, Buenaventura has long been a hub for cocaine smugglers, who include leftist rebels and far-right militias.
Last July, nearly simultaneous attacks in three towns not far from Villa Rica — Caldono, Toribio and Corinto — killed three people and wounded more than 20. Authorities say the region produces Colombia’s highest-quality marijuana which, like cocaine, is also illegal and also triggers conflicts between rival illegal armed groups.