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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
02BOGOTA7088
2002-08-09 00:53:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

FARC INAUGURATION DAY VIOLENCE

Tags:   PREL  PTER  PHUM  MOPS  CO 
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O 090053Z AUG 02
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0272
INFO AMEMBASSY BRASILIA IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY CARACAS IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY LIMA IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY PANAMA IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY QUITO IMMEDIATE 
DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
DIRONDCP WASHDC IMMEDIATE
USCINCSO MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 007088 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2012
TAGS: PREL PTER PHUM MOPS CO
SUBJECT: FARC INAUGURATION DAY VIOLENCE

CLASSIFIED BY: AMBASSADOR ANNE W. PATTERSON. FOR REASON: 1.5 (B) AND (D).



1. (C) SUMMARY: ON AUGUST 7, PRESUMED MEMBERS OF THE FARC'S
URBAN MILITIAS CARRIED OUT TERRORIST ATTACKS IN TWO DIFFERENT
AREAS OF BOGOTA. THE FIRST ATTACK, WHICH TARGETED A GOC
MILITARY INSTALLATION, WAS PROBABLY MEANT TO CONFUSE AND
DISTRACT THE COLOMBIAN SECURITY SERVICES. SEVERAL HOURS
LATER, THE FARC LAUNCHED A SECOND ATTACK ON THE INAUGURATION
SITE OF INCOMING PRESIDENT ALVARO URIBE VELEZ AS THE CEREMONY
BEGAN. IN ALL, THERE WERE 27 EXPLOSIONS IN BOGOTA RESULTING
IN THE DEATHS OF 19 INNOCENT BY-STANDERS; OVER 70 OTHERS WERE
WOUNDED. THE ATTACKS WERE WELL PLANNED BUT POORLY EXECUTED,
THUS SPARING BOGOTA FROM WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN A CATASTROPHIC
EVENT. MEANWHILE, FARC BLOCS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY LAUNCHED
SMALL-SCALE ATTACKS THAT CAUSED NO SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE OR HARM
TO CIVILIANS. END SUMMARY.



--------------------------


DIVERSIONARY ATTACK IN NORTHWEST BOGOTA


--------------------------





2. (C) AT APPROXIMATELY 1135 HOURS ON AUGUST 7 -- THE
MORNING OF PRESIDENT ALVARO URIBE'S MUCH-ANTICIPATED
INAUGURATION -- SEVERAL EXPLOSIONS WERE REPORTED NEAR THE
JOSE MARIA CORDOBA MILITARY ACADEMY IN THE NORTHWEST AREA OF
BOGOTA. IT WAS LATER DETERMINED THAT APPROXIMATELY EIGHT
IMPROVISED MORTAR ROUNDS WERE LAUNCHED FROM A RESIDENCE
LOCATED AT CALLE 99A, 57A-15. THE IMPROVISED MORTAR ROUNDS
DETONATED IN AREAS ADJACENT TO THE MILITARY ACADEMY AND
INJURED SEVERAL CITIZENS.



3. (C) COLOMBIAN AUTHORITIES WERE INITIALLY CONFUSED BY
REPORTS OF A GOLD BMW, WHICH WITNESSES CLAIMED DROVE AROUND
THROWING EXPLOSIVES. COLOMBIAN NATIONAL POLICE LATER
SEARCHED THE ABOVE RESIDENCE AND DISCOVERED 100 METAL
LAUNCHING TUBES. OF THE 100, ONLY 8 HAD FIRED.



--------------------------


ATTEMPTED ATTACK ON PALACE


--------------------------





4. (C) AT APPROXIMATELY 1510 HOURS, SEVERAL MORE EXPLOSIONS
WERE REPORTED IN THE AREA OF THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE AT THE
START OF THE PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL CEREMONY. IT WAS LATER
DETERMINED THAT APPROXIMATELY SIX IMPROVISED MORTAR ROUNDS
WERE LAUNCHED FROM A RESIDENCE LOCATED AT CARRERA 26B, 4-44.
THE IMPROVISED MORTAR ROUNDS DETONATED IN THE AREAS ADJACENT
TO THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE. ONE LANDED IN THE PARKING LOT,
WOUNDING SEVERAL SECURITY OFFICIALS, AND ANOTHER ROUND STRUCK
THE FACADE OF THE BUILDING, CAUSING MINOR DAMAGE. THE OTHER
MORTAR ROUNDS LANDED IN A POOR RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD AND
KILLED 19 PEOPLE.



5. (C) COLOMBIAN AUTHORITIES SEARCHED THE ABOVE RESIDENCE
AND DISCOVERED 80 LAUNCHING TUBES. OF THE 80, ONLY 6 HAD
FIRED. ACCORDING TO ATF PERSONNEL WHO WENT TO THE SITE, THE

LAUNCHING TUBES WERE LAID IN CEMENT ON A BACK PATIO. THE
PATIO WAS COVERED BY A CORRUGATED PLASTIC ROOF, WHICH
PREVENTED OVERHEAD SURVEILLANCE FROM DETECTING THEIR
PRESENCE.



6. (C) MILITARY AND POLICE SOURCES BLAME THE FARC URBAN
MILITIAS. NO ARRESTS HAVE BEEN MADE. ACCORDING TO THE ATF,
THE DEVICES AT BOTH LOCATIONS WERE IDENTICAL, IMPROVISED
MORTAR ROUNDS CONSISTING OF APPROXIMATELY ONE KILOGRAM OF
ANFO EXPLOSIVES ENCASED IN AN IRON SHELL WITH DIRECTIONAL
FINS WELDED ON. THE ROUNDS WERE LAUNCHED FROM STEEL TUBES
APPROXIMATELY 2.5 METERS TALL AND 120 MM IN DIAMETER. THE
WELL-MADE LAUNCHING MECHANISM FAILED ONLY BECAUSE THE FARC
USED A 12 VOLT BATTERY TO IGNITE THE CHARGE. ACCORDING TO
THE ATF, IF THE BATTERY HAD NOT FAILED, ALL OF THE MORTARS
WOULD HAVE FIRED. MEANWHILE, IN BOGOTA AND THE SURROUNDING
AREA, COLOMBIAN SECURITY FORCES DEACTIVATED FIVE BOMBS, AND
NINE OTHER EXPLOSIVE DEVICES OR GRENADES EXPLODED WITHOUT
INCIDENT.



--------------------------


ATTACKS ELSEWHERE IN COLOMBIA


--------------------------





7. (C) ACCORDING TO THE COLOMBIAN MILITARY, IN OTHER PARTS
OF COLOMBIA ON AUGUST 7, THE FARC DETONATED SEVERAL EXPLOSIVE
DEVICES, DESTROYED POWER TOWERS, BLEW UP PORTIONS OF THE GAS
PIPELINE, AND INITIATED COMBAT IN SEVERAL DEPARTMENTS WITH
THE COLOMBIAN ARMY. THREE EXPLOSIVE DEVICES DETONATED IN
CALI, CAPITAL OF VALLE DEL CAUCA DEPARTMENT. IN ARMENIA,
CAPITAL OF QUINDO DEPARTMENT, FARC MILITIAS DETONATED AN
EXPLOSIVE DEVICE AND THREW A GRENADE THAT CAUSED SOME DAMAGE.
IN ADDITION, THE FARC DOWNED EIGHT ELECTRIC TOWERS IN
RISARALDA, ARAUCA, AND BOYACA DEPARTMENTS, AND BLEW UP A
SECTION OF THE GAS PIPELINE NEAR VILLANUEVA, GUAJIRA
DEPARTMENT. THE SAME DAY, THE FARC INITIATED COMBAT WITH THE
COLOMBIAN ARMY IN ARAUCA, TOLIMA, AND CUNDINAMARCA
DEPARTMENTS.



--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





8. (C) THE FARC, INTENT ON PULLING OFF A HIGH-PROFILE
ATTACK, UNSUCCESSFULLY SOUGHT TO STEAL THE SHOW FROM URIBE ON
INAUGURATION DAY. WHILE THE MILITARY AND POLICE HAD
IMPRESSIVE SECURITY IN PLACE, THE FARC STILL MANAGED --
PROBABLY OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME -- TO SNEAK AN IMPRESSIVE
AMOUNT OF MORTARS WITHIN ABOUT A KILOMETER AND A HALF OF THE
INAUGURAL SITE. IN THIS CASE, LUCK WAS ON THE COLOMBIAN
SECURITY FORCE'S SIDE. THE RESULTS WOULD HAVE BEEN
CATASTROPHIC HAD ALL THE LAUNCHING TUBES FIRED. THE MAYOR OF
BOGOTA AND MANY OTHER OFFICIALS HAVE OBSERVED THAT THE PUBLIC
DID NOT "NOTICE" ANY ACTIVITY, WHICH IS ESPECIALLY SURPRISING
IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR THE MILITARY SCHOOL -- MIDDLE-CLASS
AND FAR MORE SETTLED THAN THE TRANSIENT NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR THE
PRESIDENTIAL PALACE.

PATTERSON


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