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Bomb attack targets former minister

A radio talk show host who used to be a government minister was injured in a bombing in Bogotá shortly after he criticised a constitutional amendment that would open the doors to peace talks with rebel groups, report the Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP) and other IFEX members. There has been no bombing in the capital since 2003.

Fernando Londoño, who served as Interior and Justice Minister under President Álvaro Uribe, sustained a concussion and head injuries on 15 May when a man wearing a wig and posing as a street vendor apparently attached the bomb to Londoño's armoured SUV.

According to news reports, Londoño's bodyguard and driver were killed, and dozens were injured in the explosion.

Londoño had just finished broadcasting his radio commentary programme "La Hora de la Verdad" (The Hour of Truth), reports FLIP. In it, Londoño criticised the proposed constitutional amendment, called "The Legal Framework for Peace". The amendment is designed to facilitate peace talks with armed groups, including the guerrilla group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), by giving rebels who disarm exemption from many crimes and allowing them to participate in politics, says the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Human Rights Watch says the amendment would "open the door to impunity for egregious human rights abuses by guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the military."

"It would allow Colombian authorities to completely abandon prosecutions and suspend sentences in cases of serious abuses, in direct contradiction with Colombia's obligations under international law," Human Rights Watch added.

News reports suggested the attack may have been related to the amendment, which was passed by Congress later in the day.

Londoño, a controversial figure who was implicated in a number of corruption scandals and forbidden from holding public office for 15 years, has used his radio programme to harshly criticise FARC and defend the conservative policies of the Uribe administration.

According to CPJ, Gen. Luis Eduardo Martínez, commander of the Bogotá police force, said there was "strong evidence" the attack was FARC's work.

Political violence in Colombia has declined in recent years; according to "TIME" magazine, the explosion was "the first major terrorist bombing in Bogotá since 2003 and shattered the notion that the Colombian capital stands immune from the drug and guerrilla violence that still plagues remote jungle and mountain regions."

But FARC, which recently made headlines with a promise to stop their longstanding practice of kidnapping civilians, turned around and abducted French TV correspondent Romeo Langlois on 28 April amid a violent confrontation with the army. Langlois is still being held captive.

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