Deadly bomb blast at Colombian police station as protestors defy curfew

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Three police were killed in a bomb blast late on Friday at a police station in Colombia, after thousands gathered for renewed protests and sporadic looting erupted in the capital Bogota.

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A police source told Reuters that 10 officers were also injured in the explosion, in the town of Santander de Quilichao in Colombia's southwestern province of Cauca, known as a hot spot for drug trafficking and violence.

The source did not attribute the bombing to a particular armed group. Police are expected to hold a news conference on Saturday morning.

Three people were killed on Thursday as more than 250,000 people marched in a national strike to express growing discontent with President Ivan Duques government.

Their grievances included rumored economic reforms that the president has denied and anger at what protesters call a lack of government action to stop corruption and the murder of human rights activists.

Thousands gathered on Friday afternoon in Bogotas Bolivar Plaza for a 'cacerolazo' – a traditional Latin American expression of protest in which people bang pots and pans.

“We are here to keep protesting against the Duque government,” said 25-year-old art student Katheryn Martinez, as she clanged a pot with a fork accompanied by her father Arturo, 55.

“Its an inefficient government that kills children and doesnt acknowledge it,” she said, referring to a recent bombing targeted at rebels that killed eight teenagers and prompted the former defense minister to resign.

Dispersal by tear gas

The crowd, which included families and elderly people, was abruptly dispersed by tear gas, sending protesters running up the steep narrow streets of the historic district.

Some protesters regrouped at nearby intersections and continued chanting, while people in other neighborhoods gathered in celebratory cacerolazos, temporarily blocking some roads.

A 9 p.m. curfew is in force across Bogota, except for the neighborhoods of Bosa, Kennedy and Ciudad Bolivar, where it began at 8 p.m.

Posts on social media and callers into radio stations said neighbors were organizing to protect homes from looters, while officials urged calm.

Several supermarkets in the citys south were looted on Friday as protesters, many masked, burned items in the street and blocked roads. Other protesters stole a public bus.

Some people were taking advantage of the protests to 'sow chaos', Duque said in a televised address on Friday evening.

"From next week I will start a national conversation that will strengthen the current agenda of social policies," Duque said.

He added that dialogue would "permit us to close social gaps, fight corruption more effectively and build, between all of us, peace with legaliRead More – Source