BOGOTA, Colombia – A senator allied to President Alvaro Uribe (search) in his offensive against Colombia's rebel groups survived a car bomb attack on his convoy that wounded nine people, including three of his bodyguards.
The explosion took place late Monday in northern Bogota (search) near the offices of Caracol radio where Sen. German Vargas — who has previously been targeted by leftist rebels — had participated in a radio talk show. He was in his bulletproof car when the bomb went off and was unhurt.
"Fortunately, I emerged fine," Vargas told RCN TV. "I was recording the program, and after I left the radio station and was headed home, the bomb surprised us."
Uribe rushed to the scene minutes after the attack, walking across the debris-strewn boulevard to inspect the damage. He said two of Vargas' bodyguards were injured lightly and one more seriously. Police said nine people were hurt.
Uribe offered a $217,000 reward for information leading to the "terrorists" who planted the bomb.
"This hurts us a lot," said Uribe, who looked slightly disheveled. "We must capture these bandits."
The president said it would be premature to blame any particular group at this stage.
Vargas was wounded in December 2002 by a bomb hidden in a book presented as a Christmas present. That attack was blamed on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (search), or FARC.
Vargas firmly backs Uribe's offensive against the FARC and a smaller rebel group, which have been waging war against a succession of elected governments in Colombia for four decades.
Vargas, 43, has also been instrumental in pushing Congress to approve a package of anti-terrorism proposals designed to help the government defeat the insurgency and restore authority in the country's lawless provinces.
Vargas' grandfather served as president. President Carlos Lleras Restrepo led the drive for economic union in Latin America in the 1960s.