Three killed in blast at upscale Bogota mall

Three killed in blast at upscale Bogota mall
Updated 18 June 2017

Three killed in blast at upscale Bogota mall

BOGOTA: Three people including a young Frenchwoman were killed and nine wounded Saturday when an explosion rocked an upscale Bogota mall, as Colombia’s only active guerrilla group condemned the blast.
President Juan Manuel Santos said there were “no clear indications” who was behind the explosion, emphasizing that those responsible would be captured and held accountable.
“Terrorists are not going to change our ways,” he said at the scene of the attack, urging Colombians to continue “normal life” and enjoy the Father’s Day holiday on Sunday.
One Frenchwoman, 23, died in the attack, according to the city’s mayor. Two Colombians also died, the Clinic of the Country said in a statement.
Another 48-year-old Frenchwoman was among the injured, according to the clinic.
Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa also said authorities could not confirm “which group could be responsible” for the blast, but it was “clearly a cowardly terrorist attack.”
Police said that at about 5:00 p.m. (2200 GMT) the explosion tore through a restroom in the Centro Andino Mall, crowded with shoppers ahead of Father’s Day and located in an upscale area of the Colombian capital that is popular with foreigners.
National police chief General Jorge Nieto told reporters “a device” was placed “behind one of the toilets in the women’s bathroom” in the shopping center.
Michael Montoya, who works in a pastry shop on the third floor, told AFP that “we were tending to customers and we heard an explosion on the second floor.”
After heading to the scene he said he and his colleague saw people crying and bloodstained.
“It was in the bathrooms because some women came out crying,” he said. “There was a lot of smoke and security people told us to evacuate.”
Police, ambulances and firefighters swiftly arrived at the scene, popular for its bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
President Santos said the mall would open normally on Sunday.
The Frenchwoman who died had spent six months working in a school in a poor neighborhood, Bogota’s mayor said.
French ambassador to Colombia Gautier Mignot confirmed the death of the 23-year-old and told a Bogota radio station that “the young woman was apparently in the company of her mother.”
Colombia is still grappling with a civil conflict that has lasted more than half a century between guerrilla fighters, paramilitary groups and state forces — leaving at least 260,000 dead, 60,000 missing and 7.1 million displaced.
The government is seeking a “complete peace” after reaching a peace accord last year with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC.
The ELN, with 1,500 fighters, is the last guerrilla group still active in the country, but was quick to condemn the attack.
“ELN_Paz condemns this deplorable incident,” the group wrote on its Twitter account, noting that the attack was “against civilians.”
“We share the pain and stand in solidarity with the victims,” the group wrote. “The state should investigate thoroughly to identify those responsible.”
The leader of the FARC, Rodrigo Londono — known as Timochenko — also denounced the explosion.
“Solidarity with the victims of today in Bogota,” he wrote on Twitter. “This act can only come from those who want to close the roads of peace and reconciliation.”
The blast was the second major attack this year in the Colombian capital.
In February the ELN claimed responsibility for a bombing at a bullring in Bogota, which killed a police officer and wounded more than 20 people.


Elizabeth Warren decries Trump as ‘corruption in the flesh’

Updated 2 min 39 sec ago

Elizabeth Warren decries Trump as ‘corruption in the flesh’

  • Warren, a Massachusetts senator, has emerged as a leading Democratic presidential contender
NEW YORK: Facing thousands of cheering supporters in the nation’s largest city, Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren on Monday decried President Donald Trump as “corruption in the flesh” and outlined her plans to root out corruption in the White House, Congress and courts.
“Corruption has put our planet at risk. Corruption has broken our economy. And corruption is breaking our democracy,” said Warren, a Massachusetts senator who has emerged as a leading presidential contender.
While aggressive, the message was a familiar one. Warren has embraced corruption as a central campaign theme from the beginning of her 2020 presidential bid. But rarely has Warren addressed such a crowd with such a symbolic backdrop.
The crowd — which exceeded 20,000 people, according to the Warren campaign — filled almost the entirety of the 10-acre (4-hectare) Washington Square Park, wrapping around a massive fountain and clogging the pathways that connect the street chess games to the classrooms of New York University to the giant marble arch the downtown park is best known for.
It was a younger audience, racially diverse and packed with women. One of the biggest applause lines of the night: “We’re not here tonight because of famous arches or famous men. In fact, we’re not here because of men at all.”
The event was set close to the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire, which killed more than 140 workers in 1911.
She framed those deaths as the direct result of corruption. Many women died because factory owners neglected safety features to save money, with the implicit support of local elected officials who declined to intervene.
Warren charged that the same thing is happening today.
“Giant corporations have bought off our government,” she said.
Specifically, her anti-corruption plan would “end lobbying as we know it” by instituting a lifetime ban on members of Congress and White House Cabinet secretaries from ever becoming lobbyists. At the same time, corporate lobbyists would be blocked from working for the federal government.
Both practices are common today.
She also would prohibit federal judges from avoiding misconduct investigations by leaving their posts, prevent courts from sealing settlements in public health and safety cases and ban class-action waivers for all cases involving employment, consumer protection, antitrust and civil rights.
And taking direct aim at issues involving the Trump administration, Warren would require candidates for public office to post their tax returns online. Presidents, Cabinet secretaries and members of Congress would also be prohibited from owning businesses on the side.
Trump, of course, has refused to release his tax returns years after promising to do so, and the Trump organization continues to do business around the world.
“Donald Trump is corruption in the flesh,” Warren said. “He is sworn to serve the people of the United States, but he serves only himself and his partners in corruption.” Warren noted, however, that Trump is only a symptom of the corruption that has infected the US political and economic systems.
Warren has long argued that the nation’s modern government only works for “the wealthy and the well-connected” like big energy, health care and insurance companies that employ lobbyists to advance their priorities over the best interests of ordinary citizens.
She wrote that popular policies championed by the Democratic Party’s progressive wing — and many in its crowded field of presidential hopefuls — like universal child care, an overhaul of the federal criminal justice system, gun reform and plans to promote affordable housing have been “stymied because giant corporations and billionaires who don’t want to pay taxes or follow any rules use their money and influence to stand in the way.”
Warren’s campaign noted that she already proposed a series of anti-corruption measures in Congress last year, but it says the proposal released Monday goes farther.
Warren has emerged as a central player in the broader fight for the direction of the Democratic Party in the age of Trump.
Like her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, Warren is demanding transformational change that Trump and his allies deride as socialism. Warren and Sanders are up against Democratic front-runner Joe Biden, a favorite of the party’s establishment wing.
Warren didn’t identify any of her Democratic opponents by name.
She noted, however, that “too many politicians in both parties have convinced themselves that playing the money-for-influence game is the only way to get things done.”
Warren doesn’t participate in high-dollar fundraising events as a 2020 candidate, though she did before launching her presidential campaign.
On Monday, looking out at the swelling crowd, Warren noted that she typically takes selfies with everyone who wants one at her events.
“Tonight is a little something different,” Warren said.