Blast kills three in Colombia shopping centre

Rescue personnel and an ambulance are seen behind yellow tape outside the Andino shopping center after an explosive device detonated in a restroom, in Bogota, Colombia June 17, 2017.

Three women have been killed in the Colombian capital, Bogotá, in what the authorities say was a terrorist attack.

An explosion occurred at a shopping centre in the busy Zona Rosa area. Eleven other people were injured in the attack.

Bogota’s mayor Enrique Penalosa said that one of those who died was from France.

The authorities say they believe the explosion was caused by a small bomb in a ladies toilet.

The attack happened on a busy Saturday afternoon, when the Andino shopping centre was full of people buying presents for Father’s Day, being celebrated on Sunday.

A 23-year-old French woman, Julie Huynh, who had been working as a volunteer at a school in the south of the city was the first victim to be identified.

Ana María Gutiérrez, 27, and Lady Paola Jaimes Ovalle, 31, were taken to hospital, but were later pronounced dead.

Another French citizen, Nathalie Levrand, 48, was admitted with soft tissue trauma, said medical staff at Bogotá Country Clinic.

It is not yet known who was behind the attack.

The rebel group the National Liberation Army (ELN), the second largest in the country after the Farc, has used one of its Twitter accounts to condemn the attack and say it shared the victims’ pain.

They say those who are accusing them of being behind the attack are trying to jeopardise peace talks, which are continuing with the government.

President Juan Manuel Santos visited the mall later on Saturday night and made a statement to the press.

“I do not want to speculate on who could be behind this attack,” he said, adding that an investigation was under way.

He called the attack “a vile, cruel, cowardly act” and vowed to capture those responsible.

 

Zainab Sa’id