A car bomb exploded at around 5:30 this morning outside the Bogotá building that houses Caracol Radio, one of Colombia’s leading radio stations, and the bureau of the Spanish news agency EFE, causing the roof to collapse and inflicting minor injuries on nine people. The radio station had been broadcasting a news programme for 30 minutes when the bomb went off.
Caracol Radio manager Darío Arizmendi covered the aftermath of the bombing live on the air until evacuated by police. He called it an attack on press freedom but said it would not silence the station.
“They will not make us return to the past,” said María Isabel Rueda of La W Radio (a member of the Caracol media group), alluding to the bombings that were an almost daily occurrence in the 1980s. Juan Manuel Santos, a former journalist who was sworn in as Colombia’s new president just five days ago, rushed to the scene of the bombing and pledged to “combat the terrorists.”
“We voice our support for our colleagues at Caracol Radio and EFE and we hope these two media will be able to continue operating,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We also hope the victims recover quickly from their injuries.”
Coming less than a week after the new president’s installation, the explosion sends a very bad signal for Colombia’s media and the country as a whole. The authorities need to respond with caution to the bombing, which has not been claimed by any group.
Who are the terrorists that President Santos referred to? The “war against terror” took a heavy toll on the media under the previous administration. A serious and impartial investigation, one that rules out no hypothesis, is needed to determine who was responsible to this criminal act.