Colombian authorities have declared strict control measures in the port city of Buenaventura following an attack on an electricity tower that officials have blamed on the country’s main rebel group.
Adm. Pablo Romero, commander of the naval force based in the southwestern Pacific port, said authorities believe an attack by the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebels downed a key transmission tower in the nearby municipality of Dagua, which supplies electricity to about 450,000 people in Buenaventura.
Power company spokeswoman Patricia Hernandez says electricity was lost at 8 p.m. Monday (0100 GMT Tuesday). She says workers are trying to restore power as quickly as possible while the army is trying to ensure they can work safely, but the company has said the process could take up to three days.
Local authorities banned alcohol sales and the carrying of arms in the troubled city, which has one of the highest murder rates in Colombia, recording 87 murders and eight disappearances in the first four months of 2014. Some residents fear that the loss of power may allow the armed criminal groups present throughout the city to increase their violent activity under the prolonged cover of darkness.
Colombia’s government has been holding peace talks with the rebels since 2012 to end the half-century-old conflict, but President Juan Manuel Santos said such attacks could put the dialogues in jeopardy. He said the FARC is “digging their own political grave” and warned the peace process could be terminated if similar attacks continue.
Additional reporting by Associated Press