Colombia: Rebels tried to kill Uribe
( AP ) - Leftist rebels tried to kill President Alvaro Uribe several times while he was running for office, including with a bomb that badly battered his armored car, according to documents the government released Monday.
The electronic documents were found in a laptop belonging to rebel leader Raul Reyes, who was slain March 1 during the government's cross-border raid into Ecuador, officials said.
The April 14, 2002, bombing was discussed in two of three brief electronic messages apparently sent to top rebel leaders and released by Uribe's office Monday, after they appeared in El Tiempo, Colombia's leading newspaper.
The bomb exploded as Uribe's campaign motorcade passed in the Caribbean coastal city of Barranquilla, killing three passers-by and wounding 16 people. Uribe's armor-plated car was wrecked but he emerged unscathed.
"We've failed in a new attempt against Alvaro Uribe," says a message dated April 15, 2002. "All we achieved was to seriously shake him up."
All three messages released Monday are signed by "Ivan," or Ivan Marquez, a member of the ruling secretariat of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Uribe spokesman Cesar Mauricio Velasquez said. Reyes, killed with 24 others in the raid on a FARC camp that caused a regional diplomatic crisis, was also on the seven-member ruling secretariat.
A message dated April 22, 2002, says the Barranquilla bomb contained "12 sacks of explosives placed in three cylinders."
It exploded five meters ( 15 feet) from Uribe's car but "a city bus partially blocked the explosive wave," the message says.
The third message, dated Nov. 22, 2001, discusses two failed attempts to kill Uribe that were blamed on "human failure." One was a bad switch, the other the premature detonation of a bomb. Dates are not mentioned.
Uribe, 55, was first elected president in May 2002 on a platform that stressed his desire to militarily defeat the FARC, which has used kidnapping, extortion and drug trafficking to support itself since taking up arms against the government in 1964.
Other documents the government says it found in Reyes' laptop include missives suggesting leftist President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela had offered to back the FARC financially. Chavez has called the documents fabrications.