POPE FRANCIS said that he was praying for “the path of peace in Colombia” after 21 people were killed in a bombing in Bogotá, the country’s capital, last week.
On Thursday of last week, more than 70 were also injured in the car bombing at a police academy. The National Liberation Army (ELN) has claimed responsibility for the attack, the country’s worst terrorist incident since 2003.
The ELN has recently increased its attempts to attack police targets during a stand-off with the government over stalled peace talks.
The process began in 2016, when the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) disarmed (News, 2 September 2016). Since the conservative President Iván Duque took office last August, however, talks have been held up in the wake of increasing ELN attacks.
In a statement, the Colombian Conference of Bishops said: “In search of peace, we who long for a reconciled country stand in solidarity with the victims, their families, and the National Police.
“We urge Colombian society not to lose hope and continue looking for ways that lead towards peace, reconciliation, and coexistence. To this end, we call on political forces, unions, and all civil society to work on a national political pact that seeks reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.
“Finally, we invite all Colombians to join in a single voice against the violence and acts of terror, in defense of life and peace.”
The Colombia programme officer for CAFOD, Ulrike Beck, said this week: “Following these horrific attacks, we are calling for a renewed dialogue to ensure that the millions of people who have suffered in the conflict see a real progression of the peace process.
“At this time of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to protect human-rights defenders and those who have been working for long-lasting peace. And, alongside our partners and the Church in Colombia, we will continue our efforts to work for peace.
“To achieve lasting peace, we need to see real change on the ground to address the structural causes of the armed conflict, such as poverty and inequality, including the unequal distribution of land.
“Most importantly, we need to see communication between all parties to guarantee that peace is not confined to an agreement but becomes a reality for all Colombians.”