Troops patrolled the tensely calm streets of the Colombian capital Saturday to prevent more violence after a night of riots triggered by the killing of a leftist political leader in a bloody airport shoot-out.
More than 200 people were arrested during a night of rioting that included stone-throwing incidents in downtown Bogota and gun battles with police in leftist strongholds in the south of the capital, national police spokesman Col. Alfredo Salgado said.
There were no serious injuries or deaths reported during the riots, which were triggered by the Friday afternoon slaying of Jose Antequera, 36, a member of the national board of directors of the Communist Patriotic Union party.
Meanwhile, representatives of the Colombian government and leftist M-19 guerrillas resumed peace talks in Mexico City after a suspension following the killing.
The M-19, which professes a nationalist, non-Marxist ideology, has been holding talks with the government since January.
Antequera died instantly from 24 bullet wounds when at least two unidentified gunmen fired on him and Liberal Party presidential candidate Ernesto Samper in a crowd of passengers at El Dorado International Airport, authorities said.
One of the gunmen and a bystander died in the shoot-out between the assailants and the politicians’ bodyguards. Five others were wounded, including two children. Samper, 38, was in satisfactory condition.
Authorities said they had no information about the assailants. The dead gunman carried no identification and the other escaped.
Colombia is suffering some of the worst violence in its history. About 2,600 people were reported murdered in January, or one every 17 minutes. Says Minister of Defense Manuel Guerrero Paz: “We are drowning in a river of blood.”