Dozens of police patrolled a blood-spattered plaza Sunday, guarding the site where a bomb killed 29 people in a lethal hail of shrapnel at a crowded outdoor music festival. Police say 205 were injured.
One suspect was arrested, and authorities offered a $625,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of others.
Even in a city accustomed to violence, the Saturday night bombing was no ordinary attack. It recalled the worst days of the northwestern Colombia city’s drug terrorism, which ebbed with the killing of cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar in 1993.
“We don’t understand why something like this happened at a festival of happiness and peace,” festival organizer Rairo Carvajalino said.The downtown blast occurred one block from a police barracks.
“There was a flash of light, then black smoke. Everyone was screaming; it was total chaos. People were crying and bleeding everywhere,” said Guillermo Pardo, 26, whose brother was hit in the shoulder by shrapnel.
The suspect was carrying five cans of gunpowder when he was arrested, but a motive was not yet known.
Police speculated the bomb had been planted by leftist guerrillas or by drug traffickers angered by Friday’s arrest of a Cali cocaine cartel leader as well as by raids on the cartel’s properties and hideouts.
Police Col. Victor Manuel Paez said a 22-pound bomb filled with shrapnel was placed beneath a bird sculpture created by internationally renowned artist Fernando Botero in Medellin’s San Antonio park.
It exploded as a musical festival called “I Am Cartagena” - after the Colombian city on the Caribbean - was ending. About 5,000 people attended the festival, according to Carvajalino, but the audience had dwindled to about 1,500 by the time the bomb went off.
At the General Hospital, Dr. Carlos Alberto Pelaez said three of the dead were children. He said the bombing was worse than any terrorist attack carried out by Escobar in Medellin.