Colombian army officials accused of allegedly faking terrorist attacks

Friday, September 8, 2006

Based on an ongoing investigation by Colombian prosecutors, Colombian's leading newspaper El Tiempo published a report claiming that some Colombian officers from the Army's 13th Brigade would have fabricated a number of terrorist attacks in the weeks prior to the inauguration of president Alvaro Uribe's second term in office, and that they would have paid for the cooperation of demobilized members of the leftist guerrilla group FARC, in particular that of a woman known as "Jessica".

The allegedly fake attacks, most of which were presented as foiled by the actions of Army, would have had the purpose of allowing the officers involved to show "positive" results in the fight against terrorism before the public and the government. Security measures had been tightened during the days prior to August the 7th, when Uribe initiated his second term in office. Four years before, during the inauguration ceremony of Uribe's first term in office, a number of handmade rockets were launched by FARC from houses in the city's center, causing minor material damage to the presidential palace and killing several people from a nearby neighborhood.

One of the incidents that have come under questioning happened on July 31, 2006 in the north of Bogotá, during which a truck-bomb killed a garbage collector and wounded ten soldiers who were driving past in a military truck. The Army's commander acknowledged on September 7 that two military officers are under investigation: "The recent attack with a car bomb, in which ten soldiers were wounded and a citizen died, and which had been attributed to outlawed groups, as well as the alleged confiscation of several explosives during the last two months, apparently do not to correspond to reality. These deceptions may have been carried out by unscrupulous people, including two army officials".

In addition to the case of the truck-bomb, doubts now surround a number of other related incidents, including the confiscation of several kilos of explosives, the discovery of a house-bomb and of three other car bombs in the latest weeks. In one of these cases, according to El Tiempo, witnesses said that the same man that abandoned a taxi bomb in the south of the capital was the same man who claimed the cash rewards for the tip-off.

Only two military officers are currently under investigation. The Caracol Radio station reported that, according to other military sources, there could be as many as seven members of the institution involved in the events.