Rebels blamed for Bogota blast

Susanna A Nesmith, Bogota, Colombia

The bomb, which gutted the 11-storey El Nogal club on Friday evening, was planted on the third floor inside a parking garage and was packed with 330 pounds of explosives.

Vice President Francisco Santos said he "had no doubt" the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was responsible.

He blamed the rebel organisation for adopting the tactics of the drug lords who plague the country as well.

"Before, what the narcoterrorists used, now (the rebels) use without any concerns of conscience," he said.

Not since drug lord Pablo Escobar unleashed a bloody campaign to avoid extradition to the US had Bogota seen an attack of Friday's magnitude. With Escobar's death in 1993 and the subsequent breakup of Colombia's large drug cartels, the rebels inherited control of the country's cocaine trade.

The FARC recently vowed to take its drug-financed war against the state to the cities and to attack the country's elite like the businessmen and politicians who frequent El Nogal.

The rebel group did not claim responsibility for the attack. Local media outlets, however, speculated that a message posted on a website used frequently by the rebels contained a veiled warning.

The message, signed by an unknown group and posted Thursday, complained bitterly of President Alvaro Uribe's hardline government, and of the prominent people who support it. The message ends: "We'll see on the 7th at six." The bomb exploded Friday, February 7, shortly after 8pm.

Though officials had held little hope that anyone was alive in the wreckage, rescuers found a 12-year-old girl Maria Camila Garcia between the third and fourth floors.

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