New York, August 29, 2001—On the evening of August 23, a powerful bomb exploded in a street behind the Medellín offices of Caracol Radio, an affiliate of the national Caracol Radio Network, according to local news reports.
The blast partially destroyed Caracol’s broadcasting facilities along with nearby buildings and houses. At least 35 people suffered blast-related injuries, some serious enough to require hospitalization. Caracol remained on the air despite the damage.
Local media initially reported that the explosion came from a car bomb, but authorities later confirmed that the blast was caused by a package containing an explosive charge of at least 30 kilograms of TNT.
“We call on Colombian authorities to identify the perpetrators of this brutal attack and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper.
Identifying bombers proves difficult
Colombian journalists contacted by CPJ said that it was unclear whether Caracol Radio was in fact the target. The station had not reported any prior threat and nobody has since claimed responsibility for the bombing.
One day after the blast, however, the Medellín-based daily El Colombiano speculated that left-wing guerrilla forces could have been responsible for the attack but did not rule out drug traffickers or other groups.
Medellín mayor Luis Pérez Gutiérrez and Medellín police have blamed the bombing on Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla faction, the National Liberation Army (ELN), according to the Bogotá daily El Tiempo.
Seven other bomb attacks were reported in Medellín on the day of the Caracol bombing. None of the targets were media outlets; Colombian authorities blamed all seven bombings on the ELN.
On August 7, the national government broke off peace negotiations with the ELN, which has since intensified its military activities around the country.