Rocket Hits U.S. Embassy; Six Bombs Kill One; End To Extraditions Urged
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A homemade rocket hit the U.S. Embassy but did not explode, and six bombs went off in the capital and the cocaine trafficking center of Cali, authorities said.
A security guard was killed in one of the Cali bombings on Sunday and another guard was hurt in a blast in Bogota, police said.
Newspapers on Sunday quoted the governing party’s top presidential contender as urging that no more drug traffickers be extradited to the United States, and one paper that has crusaded against the cocaine cartels said one of its reporters was slain by thugs.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Peter Samson said by telephone that shortly before 9 p.m. ″a homemade rocket propelled by a homemade launcher″ struck a corner of the building, causing no injuries.
Embassy officials said the rocket did not explode and only chipped away parts of some bricks. Police were investigating.
Also Sunday night, three bombs exploded in the northern part of the capital, heavily damaging three banks and 30 other businesses and shattering windows over a large area. One security guard was injured, police said.
Two other bombs were deactivated by police.
In Cali, 185 miles southwest of Bogota, three bombs eploded shortly after midnight Saturday at two banks and a shopping center, killing a security guard, police said.
The city of 1 million people is home base for one of Colombia’s two most powerful cocaine cartels. The other is in the northwest city of Medellin.
Col. Rozo Julio Navarro, chief of the national police force in Cali, told Colombian radio the bomb at the shopping center killed the guard. He said another bomb was found at a bank and deactivated.
Cali, Bogota, and Medellin have been the sites of frequent shootings and bombings since Aug. 18, when the government cracked down on the nation’s powerful drug traffickers, who in turn declared ″total war″ against the government. Forty-two people have been killed and 116 injured in the attacks.
The war began after the assassination of Luis Carlos Galan, a senator who was seeking the presidential nomination of the governing Liberal Party and had pushed for forceful action against drug traffickers.
Under emergency measures imposed since Aug. 18, President Virgilio Barco has resumed extraditions to the United States of suspected drug traffickers.
The Liberal Party’s current leading candidate, Alberto Santofimio Botero, reportedly called for an end to the extraditions in a speech Saturday in the town of Ibague.
″I do not support giving up Colombians to be tried under someone else’s roof,″ he was quoted as saying. Excerpts from the speech were published in a dozen Colombian newspapers Sunday.
So far, one person has been extradited to the United States since the government anti-drug campaign began, and authorities have said extradition proceedings are under way against two others.
As the violence continues, newspapers have begun calling for the government to negotiate with the drug traffickers.
Juan Diego Jaramillo, a columnist for the country’s leading daily, El Tiempo, suggested Saturday the government should use extradition as a bargaining chip in negotations and warned that the war could become ″a little Vietnam.″
In another Bogota daily, La Republica, columnist Francisco Morales Casas wrote, ″We should not continue with this war and should turn to dialogue.″
Perhaps the most important Colombian favoring negotiation with the drug traffickers is Juan Gomez Martinez, mayor of Medellin and one of the owners of Medellin’s leading daily, El Colombiano. He favors negotiations.
El Espectador, however, has remained firmly opposed to such moves, despite the murder of its editor, Guillermo Cano, three years ago.
The Bogota newspaper reported Sunday that its reporter in Buenaventura, Guillermo Gomez Murillo, was shot to death by three men who barged into his house Saturday night. It said there was no way of telling if the murder was the work of drug traffickers.
El Espectador’s editor was slain by drug traffickers in 1986, and the newspaper was heavily damaged Sept. 2 in a car bomb attack.