Explosion in Bogota shopping center kills three, wounds nine

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Bogota, Colombia Bogota, Colombia Three women were killed and nine wounded after an explosive device detonated in a restroom in a busy upscale shopping centre in Colombia’s capital on Saturday. The Andino shopping mall in an exclusive area of Bogota was evacuated after the blast, which occurred around 5 pm local time in the women’s toilet. The commercial centre was packed with people buying gifts ahead of Father’s Day celebrations on Sunday. Police said the device was placed in a toilet bowl in the second-floor restroom. President Juan Manuel Santos denounced the attack and promised to bring those responsible to justice. “We won’t let terrorism frighten us,” Santos said from inside the shopping centre. “Bogotanos should feel safe and protected. We won’t let our guard down but we mustn’t panic. That’s what terrorists want.” One of the victims was a 23-year-old French woman who had been volunteering in a poor area of the city, Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa told reporters. Streets surrounding the shopping centre were closed and buildings cleared as ambulances raced to the scene and security officials tried to establish who was responsible for the blast. Bomb squad specialists combed the area for additional devices. Photographs on social media showed a woman slumped against the wall in a pool of blood and what appeared to be a shard of metal piercing her back. In front of her was another woman with her leg torn apart above the knee. Another image showed the destroyed toilet cubicle with a blood-splattered handrail and debris strewn over the floor. Security has improved in Bogota over the past decade as police and military increased surveillance and put more armed officials on the streets. At one time all bags were checked at the entrance to shopping malls, but that has been vastly scaled back in recent years. —Reuters