Police officer dies after home-made bomb explodes near Bogota bullring

Police officer dies after home-made bomb explodes near Bogota bullring

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A Colombian police officer has been killed and up to 31 people injured after a home-made bomb exploded near Bogota’s bullring today.

The device, whose loud explosion shattered windows in nearby flats, appears to have been left in a sewer outside a new youth hostel popular with foreign backpackers.

It was detonated a few hours before a scheduled bullfight as police in riot gear were congregating ahead of a demonstration by animal-rights activists.

Last month, police fired tear gas and arrested scores of youth demonstrators to control mobs that physically attacked spectators attending the first bullfight in the capital in four years.

More recent bullfights since have gone off without a hitch and today’s spectacle at Bogota’s 1930s-era brick bullring was the last of the two-month season.

Juan David Gonzalez, part-owner of El Pit youth hostel, said his two dozen guests were shaken by the blast but otherwise unaffected.

“We were all inside having breakfast when we heard the blast. Everyone was in shock but luckily nobody inside was hurt,” Mr Gonzalez told the Associated Press.

Mayor Enrique Penalosa said from the blast scene that a police officer identified as John Herrera was killed during the explosion.

He refused to say how many people were injured but said they had been evacuated to three nearby hospitals.

Earlier, the city government said on Twitter that 31 people were injured, two of them seriously.

“The terrorists won’t intimidate us,” Mr Penalosa said, adding that today’s bullfight would take place as planned despite the incident. “We are going to do all that’s necessary to capture them.”

A video taken at the time of the explosion and broadcast on local TV shows a cloud of debris knocking down a phone cabling box and quickly engulfing a busy street corner as cars and pedestrians moved by.

Bogota’s previous leftist mayor outlawed bullfighting in 2012.

The constitutional court later overturned the ban, ruling it was part of Colombia’s cultural heritage and could not be blocked.

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