Car bomb explosion in Bogota: Colombian senator safe

A car bomb exploded as a prominent senator allied to Colombia's president drove past, wounding nine people, police said. The senator escaped unhurt. The explosion occurred Monday night in northern Bogota near the offices of Caracol radio, where Sen. German Vargas, who has previously been targeted by leftist rebels, had participated in a radio talk show. He was in his bulletproof car when the bomb went off.

"Fortunately, I emerged fine," Vargas told RCN TV. "I was recording the program, and after I left the radio station and was headed home, the bomb surprised us."

President Alvaro Uribe rushed to the scene minutes after the attack, walking across the debris-strewn Bogota boulevard to inspect the damage.

Uribe said three of Vargas' bodyguards were injured, two of them lightly and one with more serious wounds. Uribe said a night watchman for one of the buildings fronting the boulevard was also hit by shrapnel, but that his wounds were light. Police said a total of nine people were hurt in the attack.

Uribe offered a 500 million peso (US$217,000; Ђ179,517) reward for information leading to the "terrorists" who planted the bomb.

"This hurts us a lot," said Uribe, who looked slightly disheveled, as if he had risen from bed to come to the scene. "We must capture these bandits."

The president said it would be premature to blame any particular group at this stage, reports the AP. I.L.

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