At least seven people died and 11 more, including an 11-year-old girl, were injured when a bus exploded while driving on a highway in southeastern Columbia.
The fatal incident took place in a major drug trade, where illegal armed groups are fighting for control, a senior military official said Tuesday.
The explosion, which is being investigated by the authorities, took place on Monday at 7.30 p.m. in a rural region of the Cauca province in Colombia, about 300 miles southeast of the capital, Bogotá.
It is unknown how many passengers were on the bus when it exploded.
General Jorge Isaacs Hoyos, commander of the third division of the Colombian army, ruled out a terror attack.
“This was not an attack,” said Hoyos. “This was a passenger vehicle that drove from Pasto to Cali. It moved when it exploded. “
At least seven people were killed on Monday when a bus exploded traveling on a highway in southeastern Colombia. Authorities have confirmed that the incident is related to terrorism
A researcher who spoke under the condition of anonymity told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo that at least 60 kilos of explosives were transported by bus before it exploded
According to Colombian outlet Noticias Caracol, said the mayor of Rosas, Roberto Campo Osorio, that the vehicle was carrying at least 60 kilos of pentolite, an explosive used for military and civilian purposes.
A source with the public prosecutor, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, told El Tiempo newspaper that the explosives could have been transported from Ecuador.
“Experts found that the explosive material was in front of the vehicle and it exploded and generated a wave from front to back,” the source told El Tiempo.
Those who died were thrown out of the vehicle when it exploded, General Hoyos said.
The explosion also struck two other vehicles and forced them off the road, injuring them inside.
The explosion caused injuries to 11 people, including an 11-year-old girl
Authorities investigating the bus explosion on Monday evening in Colombia believe the explosives were delivered on the bus to Popayán for use in illegal mining or to Cali to be used for a terror plot
The injured girl, 11, drove one vehicle with three other male adults. The explosion also damaged several houses and caused injuries to at least four residents.
Officials waited for DNA samples to identify the remains of the dead passengers.
The vehicle was part of the Cooperativa Supertaxi fleet, which operates from Pasto, the capital of the province of Nariño, and drove the Cali-Pasto route.
Authorities investigated two possible theories as to why the explosives were transported by the vehicle.
Officials said the explosives might have been destined to be delivered to Popayán for use in illegal mining, and also said they could have been scheduled to be transported to Cali for a terror plot.
The deadly bus explosion of Monday evening in southeastern Colombia took place in an area key for guerrillas of the National Liberation Army [ELN], dissidents of the revolutionary forces of Colombia and criminal groups associated with drug trafficking
A vehicle is submerged in flames after a bus exploded while traveling on a highway in Colombia
A government source told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo that the explosives could have come from Ecuador
The region where the explosion also takes place is being challenged by guerrilla fighters from the National Liberation Army [ELN], dissidents of the revolutionary forces of Colombia [FARC] – who returned to arms stating a breakdown of the 2016 peace agreement – and criminal groups associated with drug trafficking, according to security sources.
The cultivation of coca leaves and the production of cocaine burns in the Andes country, where, according to the government, after more than 50 years 260,000 dead and millions of displaced persons have been left behind.
The explosion occurred after an escalation of attacks by the ELN in various regions of the country, where the rebels set fire to vehicles, blocked roads, threatened civilians, and attacked army patrols.