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Explosion at Colombia bullring injures 30: officials

Colombian anti-explosive police inspect the site where a bomb exploded near the La Macarena bullring in downtown Bogota, Colombia, on February 19, 2017
STR (AFP)
Explosion occurred near the Plaza Santamaria bullring

An explosion in Bogota early Sunday injured about 30 people, most of them police protecting a bullring that had been the targets of protests when it reopened last month, city officials said.

Mayor Enrique Penalosa had said on Twitter that a police officer was killed in the blast, but officials later said that report was a mistake and there were no deaths.

Police cordoned off the area at the center of the blast, where fragments of rubble lay as police explosives experts inspected the site.

The explosion struck near the Plaza Santamaria bullring in the Macarena district.

The city hall said 31 people were injured, two of them seriously.

The bullring was beset by protesters when bullfights resumed there on January 22 after a four-year hiatus.

STR (AFP)

Those injured on Sunday were mainly police guarding the venue, as they have during every bullfight Sunday since the protests, local media reported.

Penalosa, who overflew the scene in a helicopter, said the area had been secured.

"Anyone who wants to go to the bullfight can do so in safety," he tweeted.

Penalosa implied that the blast was intentional, tweeting "The terrorists are not going to intimidate us and we are going to do what is necessary to capture them."

"We condemn the attack with explosives. An unacceptable use of violence. We are told police officers are injured. There are no mortal victims," Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo said on Twitter.

Alberto Simon (AFP/File)

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos also condemned the attack via Twitter.

The authorities have not said who was behind the explosion or whether anti-bullfight activists were suspected.

Closed in 2012 by the city's former leftist mayor Gustavo Petro, the bullring was ordered to reopen by Colombia's Constitutional Court.

"Investigations must go ahead to capture those responsible," he wrote, expressing his "support for all the wounded police."

Bullfighting and related events have come under fire in recent years by animal rights activists who denounce the sport as cruel and dangerous.

The mayor's office said it would give more details of the attack later after an emergency security meeting on Sunday afternoon.

(Staff with AFP)

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