- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA — A bombing that killed two bodyguards of an archconservative former interior minister and injured at least 39 people Tuesday in a busy commercial district of Bogota has raised fears that violence not seen in the Colombian capital in years could return.

Former Interior Minister Fernando Londono, 68, had glass shards removed from his chest and was out of danger, authorities said. The ex-minister’s driver and another bodyguard were killed almost instantly.

Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro said a pedestrian attached an explosive to a door of Mr. Londono’s armored SUV and set it off remotely.

Investigators said Wednesday they were looking for a man between 17 and 20 years old as a suspect in bombing. Authorities said they had video of the midday attack, and Mr. Petro said the culprit “walked away disguised.” A wig of long black hair and a hat were found nearby.

It was the first fatal bombing of an apparently political nature in the capital in nearly a decade, and it traumatized a capital that two decades earlier was ravaged by car bombs set off by drug traffickers fighting extradition to the United States.

Speculation was widespread that the country’s main leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was to blame.

But President Juan Manuel Santos said it was too early to assign blame, and announced a $277,000 reward for information leading to those responsible.

“We don’t know who is behind this attack,” he said after meeting with police and military brass, Bogota’s mayor and the chief prosecutor.

FARC was behind a car bomb, however, that was detected and deactivated elsewhere in the capital earlier Tuesday, the president said.

Mr. Santos, who as defense minister in 2006 to 2009 dealt major setbacks to the rebels, said Mr. Londono had in the past received death threats and had about 19 bodyguards.

A stringent critic of FARC, Mr. Londono was interior and justice minister in 2002 and 2003 under former President Alvaro Uribe.

He hosts a daily radio show called “The Hour of Truth,” and firmly opposes peace talks with FARC, calling the rebels “terrorists” and “murderers.”

Mr. Londono also has been critical of Mr. Santos for allegedly being soft on the rebels, who have stepped up attacks in recent months.

Under Mr. Uribe, Colombia’s U.S.-backed military diminished FARC by roughly half to about 9,000 fighters. Colombia’s capital became progressively safer as the conflict was pushed to less populated hinterlands.

The last major bombing in Bogota, in 2003, devastated the exclusive El Nogal social club, killing 36 people.

The cocaine trade-funded FARC was blamed, as it was for a pre-dawn bombing outside a building housing Caracol radio in August 2010 that injured nine people.

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