Bogota, Colombia, Centro Andino Mall Blast Claims 3 Lives, Injures 11 But ELN Denies Involvement

A bomb detonated inside Centro Andino Mall, one of Bogota, Colombia's high-end shopping centers, claimed the lives of three women including a French national and wounded 11 others. Authorities are still trying to determine those responsible for the attack, but initial reports say that the rebel movement National Liberation Army, also known as ELN, denied responsibility for the incident.

The explosive, suspected to be a homemade bomb using ammonium nitrate, was placed inside the women's bathroom of Centro Andino, according to ABC News. The shopping center is an upscale mall located in the Zona Rose area, considered to be one of the more high-end tourist districts in Bogota, Colombia.

According to witnesses, stores and movie theaters inside the mall were quickly evacuated after the Centro Andino blast. Firetrucks and ambulances rushed to the location to give immediate medical assistance to the victims. Unfortunately, three were reported to have succumbed to injuries sustained from the explosion, while 11 others were rushed to the hospital to receive treatment.

One of the fatalities of the Bogota bombing is a 23-year-old French woman identified as Julie Huynh, according to Huynh was doing volunteer work in Colombia's poor neighborhood and was already preparing to return to France in a few days after a six-month stay in the Latin American country. In a tweet, Gautier Mignot, France's ambassador to Colombia, vowed support to the victim's family.

Meanwhile, a hospital statement revealed that the other two Centro Andino bombing fatalities are also women with ages 31- and 27-years-old, according to an RT report. At the moment, no names have been released but both are believed to be Colombian nationals. Of the 11 injured, one woman is still in critical condition.

Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa condemned the attack, calling it a "cowardly terrorist bombing." Meanwhile, Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos, who visited the site, refused to make any speculations on the motive and the group behind the bombing.

Attention is currently focused on Colombia's rebel movement National Liberation Army (ELN) as the group previously claimed responsibility for a February bombing that killed a police officer. However, ELN, which is currently in peace talks with the government, denied involvement in the attack via a Twitter post.

"We ask for seriousness from people making unfounded and reckless accusations. This is the way people are trying to tear up the peace process."
[Featured Image by Ricardo Mazalan/AP Images]