BOGOTA, Colombia - In an attack that has been condemned in Colombia as an act of terrorism, a car bomb exploded at a police academy in the country's capital city of Bogota.
On Thursday morning, the bomb went off at the Francisco de Paula Santander Police Academy in the south of the capital, killing at least nine people and leaving 54 others injured.
Officials told reporters in Bogota that the vehicle packed with explosives rammed into the academy grounds before the explosion.
The explosion triggered a major security response from the police and emergency teams with ambulances and helicopters rushing to the spot.
The Bogota police confirmed that nine people were killed in the attack, including a Panamanian and an Ecuadorian national.
Further, Bogota's Health department said that 54 others were injured in the blast.
According to witnesses, the blast shattered windows, broke tiles on rooftops and blackened the streets outside the police academy.
Officials said that buildings around the spot where the blast occurred was covered with shrapnel.
In a statement following the attack, Chief prosecutor Nestor Martinez told reporters that a man identified as Aldemar Rodriguez entered the police academy around 9:30 a.m. ET.
Martinez added in his statement that the man was driving a Nissan pickup that was loaded with 80 kilograms of explosives made of pentolite.
'Bloodiest attack in a decade'
The bombing on Thursday was said to be the bloodiest attack targeting the military or the police in the Colombian capital in over a decade.
Previously, in June 2017, an explosion killed three people and left 11 others injured at the Andino shopping mall/
Following the attack at the upmarket mall, the police arrested several suspected members of a far-left urban guerrilla group called the People Revolutionary's Movement for the bombing.
However, authorities said that Thursday's attack had now been claimed by any group so far.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Enrique Penalosa, the mayor of Bogota wrote, "My solidarity is with our police officers faced with this terrorist act."
Condemning the bombing, the Colombian President Ivan Duque, said that the bombing was a "miserable terrorist act."
Duque, who was visiting a western state at the time of the attack, said that he was returning to Bogota to direct the investigation along with his top military advisers.
He wrote on Twitter, "All Colombians reject terrorism and are united to confront it."
The President later visited the blast scene and told reporters, "This is an attack not only against the young, the security forces or the police. It's an attack against society. This demented terrorist act will not go unpunished."