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Car Bomb Explosion Kills 5 in Eastern Colombia - 2003-08-08

Suspected rebels set off a car bomb in eastern Colombia early Friday, killing three adults and two children.

The car bomb exploded just outside Saravena, a dusty cattle town tucked into Colombia's oil-rich eastern plains. Local authorities said the blast occurred near Saravena's military base, where U.S. trainers have been instructing Colombian troops.

Two Marxist guerrilla groups operate in the area, which is one of the hottest battle zones in the country.

The attack comes just a day after President Alvaro Uribe Velez celebrated his one-year anniversary in office. Mr. Uribe won a landslide victory on promises to crack down on rebel violence, and his approval ratings remain very high.

But as recent bombings demonstrate, the guerrillas still control large swaths of the Colombian countryside.

There have also been reports that Colombia's largest rebel army, known as the FARC, is planning a suicide attack against the president. The FARC have used unwitting civilians to plant car bombs in the past, but they have yet to employ suicide tactics.

Gen. Carlos Alberto Ospina, head of the army, said Friday's attack was the work of "bandits" and he offered a $17,000 reward for information leading to their arrest.