Sunday, June 18, 2017

Pure and Simple Terrorism

Memorials to the three women killed hang in the Centro Andino shopping mall.
(Photo: El Espectador
The bomb which exploded in a shopping mall bathroom yesterday killing three people and injuring at least eight caused far fewer human victims than many other Colombian attacks, but in its own way was much more terrifying.

Pablo Escobar's bombing of the DAS headquarters in 1989 killed 70 people (including the grandmother of a friend of mine) and injured many more. The Feb. 2003 FARC bombing of the exclusive El Nogal Club in north Bogota killed 36 people and injured more than 200. In November of that same year, FARC guerrillas threw hand grenades into a Bogotá Beer Company bar and neighboring restaurant, which North American Plan Colombia workers frequented, killing one Colombian woman and injuring 73 other people, including three Americans. This February, a bomb exploded on the sidewalk above Bogotá's bullfighting stadium, killing two police officers and injuring 20 more people.

As terrible as those attacks were, at least they were directed at some recognizable target: the DAS (Colombia's FBI), the business elite, U.S. government employees, the police, etc. But yesterday's bombing in the Centro Andino shopping mall had no rhyme or reason we've learned of, and nobody has claimed responsibility for it. The victims were common people, if likely wealthy ones, and the bombers could have had no way to know who would be inside that women's bathroom at that moment. One of those killed, Julie Huynh, a 23-year-old Frenchwoman doing social work in Colombia, was a friend of friends of mine.

That gives this bombing a special sort of horror, like a vehicle mowing down an anonymous crowd of pedestrians: the feeling that fatal violence could occur anywhere, with no reason, and that there's no way to avoid the risk - besides perhaps staying at home in bed.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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