Flights were suspended this morning at the Camilo Daza international Airport serving Cúcuta, Colombia in the Norte de Santander department on the border with Venezuela after two bombs exploded, the first around 5am local time.
According to Colombian police, a suspected terrorist entered fenced airport property and a bomb he or she was apparently carrying exploded. Another explosive device detonated soon after, killing two members of the Colombian National Police’s anti-explosives unit, Majors David Reyes and William Bareño; both decorated for their work disarming land mines in the region.
According to Aerocivil, Colombia’s civil aviation authority, the airport remains temporarily closed to flights due to police action & investigation.
Cúcuta is the largest city on Colombia’s border with Venezuela, and the capital of the Norte de Santander department, a center or organized crime and rebel insurgency, especially in the Catatumbo region, north of Cúcuta. In June of this year, the President’s helicopter came under attack in Cúcuta, hit multiple times by small arms fire as it approached the same airport. Two other car bombs were set off in the area during 2021. The mayor of Cúcuta, Jairo Yáñez was in the airport when the first explosion took place, and was immediately evacuated.
Colombia entera rechaza y condena con firmeza la acción terrorista que cobró la vida de dos héroes de la patria en #Cúcuta: los intendentes David Reyes y William Bareño (Q.E.P.D). No habrá impunidad. #NosDueleATodos
— Policía de Colombia (@PoliciaColombia) December 14, 2021
“We repudiate the cowardly terrorist attack that occurred in the city of Cúcuta. With @mindefensa, Military Cupola, @COL_EJERCITO & @PoliceColombia, we are coordinating immediate actions to find those responsible for this attack,” said Colombian President Ivan Duque via Twitter.
“We deeply regret the death of these two uniformed men from the @PoliceColombia, who had been nominated for heroism for their tireless work to free Norte de Santander and the Catatumbo region from antipersonnel mines. The terrorist attack with explosives at the Camilo Daza airport in Cúcuta, claimed the lives of two heroes of our @PoliceColombia: William Bareño and David Reyes, when they deactivated a second charge in the vicinity of the runway. To their families all the solidarity,” Duque added.
El ataque terrorista con explosivos en el aeropuerto Camilo Daza de Cúcuta, cobró la vida de dos héroes de nuestra @PoliciaColombia: William Bareño y David Reyes, cuando desactivaban una segunda carga en inmediaciones de la pista. A sus familias toda la solidaridad.
— Iván Duque 🇨🇴 (@IvanDuque) December 14, 2021
So far, no suspects have been captured, however the attacks earlier this year on the president’s helicopter were attributed to former FARC rebels who refused to disarm in the 2016 peace accords. Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano says these mafia groups now operate from Venezuela, easily crossing into Colombia across the shallow creek that separates the two nations in this area. Molano has today said that the attacks could be the responsibility of “Gentil Duarte” or alias Mechas of the FARC dissident groups.
U.S. State Department says “Don’t Go”
The US Government issued a statement this morning saying:
The U.S. Department of State advises citizens not to travel to the Norte de Santander department due to crime and terrorism. Violent crime, including armed robbery and homicide, is widespread. Terrorist groups are active in this area. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens as U.S. government-personnel travel to these areas is severely restricted due to security concerns. The full Travel Advisory for Colombia can be found here.
Actions to Take:
- Avoid the area where the incident took place.
- Notify friends and family of your safety.
- Monitor local media for updates.
- Exercise vigilance.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- If applicable, contact your airline to reschedule flights to/from the Camilo Daza Airport.
Someone near the airport was recording video when the second bomb exploded:
— Noticentro 1 CM& (@CMILANOTICIA) December 14, 2021