A car bomb detonated inside a military base in Colombian border city Cucuta injured 36 people on 15 June, 2021. The defence ministry said two men posing as public officials drove into the base on Tuesday afternoon and set off two explosions from the vehicle. Of the 36 casualties, three were severely wounded and 29 hospitalised.
Colombian defence minister Diego Molano deemed the incident a terrorist attack and the government has blamed the National Liberation Front (ELN). The involvement of FARC dissidents is also being investigated.
The ELN, ex-FARC fighters, and criminal gangs remain active in the northeastern region of the country, around the Norte de Santander capital city Cucuta, near the border with Venezuela.
The ELN is the country’s last recognized guerilla group, since the 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). However, the government has accused FARC dissidents of attacks since the peace deal was struck, most notably on 27 March this year, 2021, when a car bomb in Cuaca province left 43 people injured, including 11 public officials.
AOAV has recorded six incidents of explosive violence in Colombia this year, 2021, totalling 114 casualties, including at least 60 civilians. Since the 2016 peace deal, there have been 291 civilian casualties of explosive violence, and 571 casualties including armed-actors.
From 2011-2020, across 129 incidents, Colombia has suffered 991 civilian casualties of explosive violence, and 1,803 in total, when including armed-actor casualties. Ground-launched weapons and IEDs account for 96% of civilian casualties, causing 470 and 484 respectively.
Attacks involving explosive weapons often go unclaimed, making it difficult to collect accurate information on the users of explosive weapons from media reporting. As such, of the 129 incidents AOAV has recorded in Colombia over the last decade, 58 have an unknown perpetrator status. However, 27 incidents were identified as attacks by the Colombian military, and 31 incidents identified FARC as the perpetrator. The majority of FARC attacks took place in 2011 and 2012, and in total amassed 341 civilian casualties, 446 when including armed-actors. AOAV has also been able to record seven incidents where the ELN was identified as the perpetrator. Most ELN-attributed civilian casualties occured in one incident on 17 January 2019, when a car bomb was detonated outside a police academy in Bogota, killing 21 and injuring 68 others.
Follow this link for more information from AOAV on the use of explosive weapons in Colombia.
Find AOAV’s annual reports in Spanish here.
Did you find this story interesting? Please support AOAV's work and donate.