Reporters Without Borders unreservedly condemns yesterday’s targeted bomb attack on the car of Fernando Londoño Hoyos, a hardline former interior minister who is now Radio Súper’s programme director and a columnist for various newspapers. Londoño survived the attack on busy Bogotá street, but his driver and bodyguard were killed and 39 others were injured.
It is not yet known who was behind the bombing, which came during the continuing wait for the release of French journalist Roméo Langlois, held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the south of the country since 28 April.
“The bomb that nearly killed Londoño is a painful reminder of the 1980s, when bombings like this were a common occurrence in the capital,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This violence, a product of Colombia’s civil war, has never really disappeared, as we saw when a car bomb was set off outside Caracol Radio in August 2010, five days after President Santos was sworn in.
“We hope that investigators will quickly identify those responsible for yesterday’s tragedy, which bears all the hallmarks of the half-century-old civil war, and we hope that it has no impact on the release of Langlois.”
Londoño sustained concussion and chest injuries in the explosion. According to one of his bodyguards, the bomb was thrown on to the hood of his armoured SUV and then set off. Shortly before the blast, an attempt to set off a bomb on the way to police headquarters was thwarted.
Interior and justice minister from 2002 to 2004 under former President Alvaro Uribe, Londoño is a strong supporter of a military solution to the FARC’s continuing guerrilla insurgency. He had not received any threats recently, according to Radio Súper president Javier Pava, but police sources said he continues to be in the FARC’s sights.
“As an organization that defends freedom of information and expression, we express our support for Londoño during this ordeal and our hope that he will recover quickly and be back on the air soon,” Reporters Without Borders said. “At the same time, we regret some of his recent comments during his radio programme ‘La Hora de la Verdad,’ which we regard as unnecessarily polemical and unfavourable to Langlois.
“Freedom of expression is not incompatible with concern for the truth. Langlois is a recognized, impartial and experienced journalist, not an activist, and there is nothing ‘farcical’ about his hopefully imminent release, as Londoño suggested. This kind of remark can expose a journalist to even more risks in a country such as Colombia. When a journalist is in Langlois’ or Londoño’s situation, a show of solidarity is needed from all of his colleagues.”