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Bomb blast at Colombia police station kills 2

December 31, 2011
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BOGOTA, Colombia—A bomb exploded at a police station in southern Colombia, killing the wife and son of a police officer and injuring at least six other people, the authorities said Saturday.

The blast on Friday night killed the wife and 8-month-old son of the police captain in charge of the outpost in the town of Orito, about 540 kilometers (330 miles) southwest of Bogota, said Gen. Rodolfo Palomino of the National Police.

Palomino said four police officers and two other people were injured. "One of them is the captain's other son, who is just 2 years old," Palomino told the Colombian radio station RCN.

The police captain, Jose Claros Gomez, also was among the injured and was hospitalized in Bogota, Palomino said.

It was unclear whether an armed group in Colombia's long-running conflict was behind the attack. The town is located in a region where both leftist rebels and drug traffickers operate.

Mayor Argenis Velasquez said he heard the blast from his home.

"It was an explosive that they put in the police station, which ended up totally destroyed," Velasquez said in a telephone interview.

Other nearby buildings were also damaged, he said.

Velasquez said the police captain in charge of the station was new to the job. The mayor said he had met him just a few days ago.

"I told him this town was very calm," Velasquez said. "Everyone in Orito is surprised, sort of paralyzed, because this town has been very safe."

Hours after the explosion, the mayor-elect of another town in southwestern Colombia was killed early Saturday. Jaime Alberto Chazatar, who was to take office on Sunday as mayor of Santacruz de Guachaves, was shot and killed by men on a motorcycle at his home, outgoing mayor Manuel Molina said.

He said Chazatar had received threats recently. It was unclear who might have been behind the killing, but Molina said he suspects it had to do with local political conflicts. There was no apparent link with the bombing of the police station.

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