Police in a Colombian town defused two powerful, shrapnel-filled bombs just hours before a visit by US Senator Paul Wellstone and US Ambassador Anne Patterson, media reports said on Saturday.
The Washington Post reported that the bombs were found on Thursday in the town of Barrancabermeja, an oil-refining town 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Bogota, might have been rigged for an assassination attempt.
Police arrested one man believed to belong to a leftist guerrilla group hostile to US military aid for the Colombian government.
Patterson took up her post as Washington's envoy to Colombia three months ago. Wellstone, who had traveled to Colombia to review anti-drug activities in Colombia, was on his way home late Friday, according to the Post.
A police official told reporters in Bogota that the bombs were discovered near a route Wellstone and Patterson could have taken from the airport to a brief meeting with human-rights advocates.
Police said the arrested man was a suspected urban commando of the National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia's second-largest leftist militant group after the Marxist guerrilla group FARC -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Rebel groups have vowed to prevent implementation of the US-backed Plan Colombia, which aims to end Colombia's 35-year-old civil war and stem the flow of illegal drugs. The United States is contributing 1.3 billion dollars (1.5 billion Euros) in economic and military aid to the project.
If successful, Plan Colombia would deal a major blow to leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary forces that draw much of their financing from the drug trade.
Colombia is the world's leading producer of cocaine and exports 90 percent of its annual 520-tonne production to the United States – WASHINGTON (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)