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BOMB KILLS 2, HURTS 7 IN COLOMBIA

SHARE BOMB KILLS 2, HURTS 7 IN COLOMBIA

A car bomb exploded in front of the offices of a crusading anti-drug newspaper in the town of Bucaramanga Monday, killing two people and wounding seven, police said.

Police suspected the blast was the work of one of the drug cartel-funded hit squads formed in August to battle the Colombian government in its fight against the country's cocaine barons.Since the cartel's declaration of "total war" more than 150 bombs have exploded in Colombia killing at least 10 people and causing millions of dollars in material losses.

Also Monday Carlos Gomez Zapata, who is wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges and was awaiting extradition, escaped before dawn from a hospital in Barranquilla 775 miles north of Bogota, a national police spokesman said.

Gomez, who was arrested Sept. 21, was to be moved to a top security jail in Bogota this week prior to his extradition hearing. No details of his escape were made available.

Police said a Renault Four compact car filled with 150 pounds of dynamite went off at 6:10 a.m. at the headquarters of the Vanguardia Liberal newspaper in the center of Bucaramanga, 195 miles north of the capital.

One victim, a security guard at the newspaper, was killed instantly and a second person died at a hospital.

The explosion damaged 15 businesses and homes within two blocks of the newspaper, downed power lines and burst water pipes, police said.

It was the third bomb attack against an anti-drug newspaper in six weeks. On Sept. 2 a 200-pound bomb destroyed the Bogota headquarters of the El Espectador newspaper, wounding 83 people. A week later another bomb damaged offices of the same paper south of the capital.

Last week two employees of El Espectador were gunned down in the newspaper's region office in Medellin by assassins hired by the cartels.

Later the same day a caller identifying himself as a member of the hit squad "the Extraditables" said the rest of the staff would be killed unless the paper closed its Medellin offices.