(BOGOTA, Colombia) – A car bomb exploded at a heavily guarded police college in Colombia's capital on Thursday, killing 10 people and injuring dozens in an attack reminiscent of the bloodiest chapters of the country's drug-fighting guerrilla conflict.  The scene outside the general Santander police academy in southern Bogota was chaotic in the aftermath of the midmorning attack, the largest against a police or military facility in Bogota for years.
Videos circulating on social media show panic officers pulling injured colleagues on stretches of dirt and body parts strewn in front of red tiled tracks. In the distance, the remains of the skeleton steel of the truck used in the attack are still burning while approaching ambulances leaf.
President Ivan Duque hurried back to the capital with his top military advisers from a visit to a Western state to monitor the police investigation pointing to a possible suicide bombing ̵
Chief Prosecutor Nestor Martinez said a 56-year-old man named Jose Aldemar Rojas, who ran a 1993 Nissan pick-up loaded with 175 pounds of pentolite, carried out the attack. He said the car had its last official mechanical revision six months ago in the eastern part of Arauca along the border with Venezuela.
"This is an attack not only against the youth, security forces or police. It is an attack on society," Duque said in a brief statement after examining the blast scene. "This demented terrorist act will not be unpunished."
The Ministry of Defense said 10 people were killed and another 66 was injured. Among the dead were a Panamanian and an Ecuadorian citizen.
Rafael Trujillo said he delivered a care pack to his son Gerson, who entered the school just two days ago, when he was stopped in his trace of the blast that destroyed windows in apartment buildings as far as four blocks away.
"I'm sorry because I have no information about my son," said Trujillo, outside the facility, where police officers had set a wallpaper perimeter as forensic specialists examined the blast site.
The authorities were at a loss to explain how the vehicle slid through a gate permanently protected by explosive sniffing dogs, heavily armed guards and security cameras. But there were unconfirmed reports based on leaked recordings of telephone calls by officers on the spot where the driver hit through the checkpoint on a kamikaze mission.
The health authorities in Bogota appealed to residents to donate blood at one of four ranks of capital to help treat the injured, most of whom were rushed to a police hospital.
For decades, residents of Bogota feared being caught in a bombing of leftist rebels or Pablo Escobar's Medellin drug cartel. But as Colombia's conflict has declined, security has improved and residents have lowered their guard.
While the authorities had not yet suggested who was behind the attack and no armed groups claimed responsibility, attention was focused on left-wing rebels from the National Liberation Army, who have intensified police attacks in Colombia opposite a standoff with the conservative Duque on how to resume renounced peace negotiations.
The group known as ELN was long regarded as a lesser military threat than the revolutionary armed Colombia forces whose 7,000 guerrilla fighters disarmed as part of a 2016 peace agreement. especially along the eastern border with Venezuela, where it has carried out a number of kidnappers and bombings of oil pipelines. It has hardened Duque's decision to refuse to resume peace negotiations that have been abandoned since joining last August despite a ceasefire offer.
Other potential attackers include the country's Usuga drug cartel, which has suffered a number of setbacks in police hands and dissident members of the FARC.
Several foreign leaders condemned the attack, as did the previous commanders from the dissolved FARC.
The United Nations Peace Mission in Colombia called it "an unacceptable criminal act that goes against the efforts the country is doing to steer clear of violence and work … to create a more prosperous and peaceful future."
An explosion In the exclusive Andino mall in June 2017, three people, including a French woman and injured another, killed 11. Police later arrested several suspected members of a remote urban guerilla group called People Revolutionary Movement for the bombing.
Bu t it has been more than a decade since a police or military installation in the capital has suffered a major bombing. A storm at military university in 2006 left nearly two dozen people injured.
Ariel Avila, an analyst who traces violence, said that over the past four years there have been 28 attacks in the capital with explosives. While the majority have been done with low-quality home-made materials and grenades that have damaged property but did not leave any accidents, he said police should be stepping up intelligence and control points around the city to prevent more attacks.
"We'll consolidate the city again," he told blu radio.