By Walter Sanchez Silva
Bishop Víctor Manuel Ochoa Cadavid of the Military Ordinariate of Colombia expressed his sorrow and solidarity following the Dec. 14 terrorist attack that took the lives of two police officers at the Camilo Daza airport in the city of Cúcuta, located on the border with Venezuela.
“Great sadness and great sorrow for what happened in Cúcuta, where two members of the National Police have fallen: David Reyes and William Bareño,” Bishop Ochoa said in a Dec. 14 statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency.
CNN en Español aired a statement by Colonel Giovanni Antonio Madariaga of the Metropolitan Police of Cúcuta who described the attack that took place between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. local time.
In an initial explosion, a person carrying a bomb was killed. Two officers from the bomb squad then searched the area to locate and deactivate any other device.
However, both were killed in a second explosion.
“They walk around the area and identify a suitcase. As they approach taking all safety measures, it detonates. Our two bomb squad technicians offered their lives for people’s safety,” the colonel said.
“At this time we continue to collect all the material evidence to identify the way it was done, how they entered and what criminal and terrorist group is responsible,” he added.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration announced the suspension of operations at the airport and asked travelers to “stay in constant communication with the airlines.”
President Iván Duque repudiated on Twitter “the cowardly terrorist attack that occurred in the city of Cúcuta” and said that “immediate actions are being coordinated to find those responsible for this attack.”
Bishop Ochoa told ACI Prensa that a few days ago the deceased policemen received the National Police Excellence Award for their heroism, “since they had defused a very large bomb in the Catatumbo area and now they intervened to deactivate the explosives at the airport.”
Catatumbo is a Colombian subregion located in northeast Norte de Santander Department, which stretches between the eastern mountain range of Colombia and Lake Maracaibo. It is made up of eleven municipalities and has historically suffered from guerrilla activity.
What happened today, the bishop continued, “is very sad news for us. The Military Diocese extends all its solidarity to the wives and children of these fallen men who lost their lives.”
Bishop Ochoa said funerals of officers Reyes and Bareño will be held and details are forthcoming.
In a statement sent to ACI Prensa by the Diocese of Cúcuta, Bishop José Libardo Garcés Monsalve also repudiated “vehemently these acts of violence against human life and the tranquility of civil society.”
“We call for reconciliation and the disarmament of the hearts of the violent who try to destroy the invaluable gift of life,” the prelate said in the statement.
“We urgently call for continuing to build the path to peace, that it may not be violated with these kinds of deeds that bring more pain and uncertainty to this region of the country that has been severely hit by violence for years.”
The bishop also said he would accompany “with prayer the families of the members of the Public Force who today suffer the loss of their loved ones as a result of this deed.”