Jun 13, 2008 | 18:46 GMT

3 mins read

Colombia: The FARC Lashes Out

Two explosions June 12 in the Colombian capital appear to be the work of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. These attacks, taken alongside other recent bombings that targeted police and civilians, suggest the rebel group may be responding to recent military setbacks by striking out to create pressure on the Colombian government.
Two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) rocked neighborhoods in Colombia's capital of Bogota late June 12. The first blast occurred around 7 p.m. local time in the courtyard of a factory in the industrial district, while the second took place three hours later in the parking lot of a video store in a residential neighborhood in northern Bogota. Damage at the factory site was limited to an exterior wall and no injuries were reported in either explosion — though the Administrative Department of Security (DAS) did discover and defuse another IED at the factory, leading them to evacuate many residences in the surrounding Montevideo neighborhood. The blasts follow another bombing June 9 in a downtown basement that left one woman dead, and a June 10 blast at a police station that injured 15 officers. Authorities have linked the police station bombing to an urban guerilla group under the command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). No information has been released regarding who planted the other devices, but all of these incidents follow the pattern of previous FARC attacks. The FARC have recently experienced several military setbacks, including the deaths of two high-ranking military leaders, and appear to be feeling the pressure of ongoing Colombian military operations. The June 10 attack on the police station looks to have been an attempt by the FARC to apply political pressure on the government to back down — a tactic seen in the past in Colombia in the case of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. As a multinational security force tracked Escobar between 1992 and 1993, the remnants of the Medellin cartel began a ruthless bombing campaign against the citizens of Colombia. As a result of the carnage, however, Escobar soon lost the support of the people who once used to protect him from authorities. The FARC already are unpopular among the majority of Colombian citizens, and the rebels have recently lost the longtime support of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as well. Should the group continue its bombing campaign, it is likely to lose what little support it has left. However, for the FARC to remain relevant, the group must apply political pressure on the Colombian government, and the most effective way is to target civilians. Therefore, if the Colombian military continues to experience success backing the FARC into a corner we will likely see similar attacks in the future.

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