Latest news: 3 dead, including 2 police officers in a terrorist attack at Colombian airport

Flights were suspended this morning at Camilo Daza International Airport serving Cúcuta, Colombia, in the department of Norte de Santander, on the border with Venezuela, after two bombs exploded, the first at around 5 a.m. , local hour.

According to Colombian police, a suspected terrorist entered the fenced property of the airport and a bomb he was apparently carrying exploded. Another explosive device detonated shortly after, killing two members of the Colombian National Police’s anti-explosives unit, Majors David Reyes and William Bareño; both decorated for their work in disarming landmines in the region.

According to Aerocivil, the Colombian civil aviation authority, the airport remains temporarily closed to flights due to police action and investigation.

Cúcuta is the largest city on Colombia’s border with Venezuela and the capital of the Norte de Santander department, a center of organized crime and rebel insurgency, particularly in the Catatumbo region, north of Cúcuta. In June of this year, the president’s helicopter was attacked in Cúcuta, repeatedly hit by small arms fire as it approached the same airport. Two more car bombs were set off in the region in 2021. Cúcuta’s mayor, Jairo Yáñez, was at the airport when the first explosion occurred and was immediately evacuated.

“We reject the cowardly terrorist attack that took place in the city of Cúcuta. Together with @mindefensa, Military Cupola, @COL_EJERCITO & @PoliceColombia, we are coordinating immediate actions to find those responsible for this attack, ”Colombian President Ivan Duque said via Twitter.

“We deeply regret the death of these two men in @PoliceColombia uniform, who had been nominated for heroism for their tireless work to free the Norte de Santander and the Catatumbo region from anti-personnel mines. The terrorist bombing at Camilo Daza Airport in Cúcuta claimed the lives of two heroes of our @PoliceColombia: William Bareño and David Reyes, when they deactivated a second charge near the runway. To their families, all the solidarity, ”added Duque.

So far, no suspects have been captured, but attacks earlier this year on the president’s helicopter were blamed on former FARC rebels who refused to disarm in the 2016 peace accords. Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano said these Mafia groups now operate from Venezuela, easily crossing Colombia by the shallow stream that separates the two nations in that region. Molano said today that the attacks could be the responsibility of “Gentil Duarte” or alias Mechas of the FARC splinter groups.

US State Department Says “Don’t Go”

The US government issued a statement this morning saying:

The US State Department advises citizens not to travel to the Norte de Santander Department due to crime and terrorism. Violent crime, including armed robberies and homicides, is widespread. Terrorist groups are active in this area. The U.S. government has a limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens, as the movement of U.S. government personnel in these areas is severely restricted due to security concerns. The full Travel Review for Colombia can be found here.

Actions to be taken:

      • Avoid the area where the incident took place.
      • Let your friends and family know about your safety.
      • Watch local media for updates.
      • Be vigilant.
      • Be aware of your surroundings.
      • If applicable, contact your airline to reschedule flights to / from Camilo Daza Airport.

Someone near the airport was recording a video when the second bomb went off:

Photo credit: EEIM, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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