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Bomb kills 5 at Colombia eatery

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BOGOTA, Colombia — A bomb attached to a bicycle exploded in front of a restaurant across the street from a police station Friday, killing four policemen and a 5-year-old girl and injuring 26 other people.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which came with the restaurant packed with noontime diners. But Bogota Mayor Antanas Mockus blamed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

"This shows the decision of the guerrillas to bring terrorism to a higher level . . . and we have to prepare a response," Mockus said.

Police deactivated two other bombs, said police spokesman Sgt. Alberto Cantillo. One was on a parked bicycle near a police station in northern Bogota and another was in a western residential neighborhood.

David Hernandez, a paramedic, emerged from the wreckage of the restaurant with blood spattered on his lab coat and glasses, and said that three police officers and an unidentified woman who were among the wounded had suffered critical injuries.

Municipal health officials said 26 people were injured, including two babies, ages 2 months and 4 months.

The attacks come as negotiators from the government and rebels are trying to hammer out an agreement for a cease-fire in the 38-year civil war.

The Josefa restaurant is across the street from the Fatima Police Station in a working-class neighborhood of southern Bogota. The bomb contained 4 1/2 pounds of explosives and 4 1/2 pounds of shrapnel, Cantillo said.

Hundreds gathered around the restaurant, where the body of a 5-year-old girl lay in the street, covered with a sheet. Another body, of a policeman, lay covered nearby on the sidewalk, a highly polished shoe sticking out from underneath the sheet.

Windows in neighboring buildings were blown out, as was the windshield of a police pickup truck parked in front. The restaurant was heavily damaged on the outside, with bricks missing from the facade. The bicycle on which the bomb had been planted lay on the street, twisted almost beyond recognition.

Thousands around Bogota heeded Mockus' call on Friday to turn off their lights for three minutes at 7 p.m. to protest the violence.

"This shows the decision of the guerrillas to bring terrorism to a higher level ... and we have to prepare a response," Mockus said.

Colombia has been wracked by a wave of terrorist attacks outside of Bogota in recent weeks. The FARC has claimed responsibility for dozens of assaults on electricity towers around the country that have caused power rationing in three states.

Colombia's civil war is generally fought in the countryside, sparing the major cities. The last wave of urban terrorism, in May, left at least 20 dead in separate bombings in Bogota, Medellin, Cali and other cities.

An estimated 3,500 people die in war-related violence every year.