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Argentina bomb defused where Colombia's ex-president was to speak

May 22, 2012 |  3:52 pm

Bomb found at Gran Rex Theater in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

BUENOS AIRES -- Argentine officials on Tuesday found a bomb in a Buenos Aires auditorium where former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is scheduled to speak.

Federal police said the crude explosive was discovered by employees at the Gran Rex Theater in central Buenos Aires, where Uribe is to participate in a business leadership conference Wednesday. No group immediately claimed responsibility and there were no arrests.

Authorities said the bomb consisted of a cardboard box filled with black powder explosive and a cellphone connected to a detonator.

On May 15, Colombia’s former interior minister, Fernando Londoño, was the target of a bombing that killed his driver and bodyguard. Some officials suspect the rebels known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, were responsible, although no suspects have been named officially.

The cellphone was programmed to detonate Wednesday afternoon, when the highest concentration of people was expected at a post-conference cocktail hour. 

Investigating Judge Norberto Oyarbide said the bomb constituted a “very serious” plot and could have had “unpredictable consequences.”

"It’s a simple apparatus but sufficient to cause the death of people who were nearby,” Oyarbide said at a news conference in front of the theater. Also scheduled to speak at the Wednesday conference are Guy Caron, co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, and an official with the Barcelona pro soccer team.

Late Tuesday afternoon, organizers said the conference would go on as scheduled.

Leftist organizations and Colombian residents critical of the presence of Uribe had planned a midday demonstration Wednesday to protest his appearance.

There was no comment from the Argentine government as of late Tuesday. Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon issued a statement saying his government “rejected any form of terrorism.” 


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-- Andres D’Alessandro in Buenos Aires and Chris Kraul in Bogota, Colombia

Photo: Police stand guard outside the Gran Rex Theater in Buenos Aires on Tuesday. Credit: Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press