Bomb In Upscale Mall Kills 3, Injures 9 In Colombia

Firefighters stand outside the Centro Andino shopping center in Bogota, Colombia, Saturday, June 17, 2017.

The mall was filled with people buying presents for Father's Day on Sunday when the explosion occurred around 5 p.m.

National police chief General Jorge Nieto told reporters "a device" was placed "behind one of the toilets in the women's bathroom".

Eleven other people were killed at the Andino shopping center in the Zona Rosa area Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

Authorities have "three concrete hypotheses" on the perpetrators, Santos said Sunday after meeting with investigators, but declined to elaborate to avoid harming the probe.

The deceased French woman had spent six months working as a volunteer at a local school in a poor neighborhood and was preparing to return to France in the coming days along with her mother who was with her in Bogota.

"We won't let terrorism frighten us", Santos said from inside the shopping centre.

Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa called the attack a "cowardly terrorist bombing" on Twitter.

The attack takes place as the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas are implementing a historic peace deal that aims to bring an end to more than 50 years of civil conflict.

The country's second-largest insurgent group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, in February exploded a device in Bogota that injured dozens of police.

The leftist ELN said on Twitter it "condemns this deplorable incident", noting that the attack was "against civilians".

In a televised address, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced his decision to cancel a state visit to Portugal after a terrorist attack in Bogota on Saturday, which has left three people dead. The ELN is the country's second-largest militant group and is now negotiating its own peace deal with the Colombian government. This attack has been termed as the attempt to break the peace process.

They also have expressed doubts about the ELN leadership's ability to control its roughly 1,500 troops, given that the group has traditionally operated with a much looser command structure than the highly-centralized FARC, which also condemned the attack. We won't let our guard down but we mustn't panic.

Bomb dogs still check cars at parking facilities in the capital.

  • Leroy Wright