3 killed, 9 injured in Bogota shopping mall blast

The shopping center, one of the busiest in the country, is now being evacuated.

Longtime Bogotá Mayor Enrique Penalosa calls this deadly explosion a "cowardly terrorist bombing".

Firefighters stand outside the Centro Andino shopping center in Bogota, Colombia, Saturday, June 17, 2017.

A French national, a woman, was killed, he said.

"The ELN repudiates the attack on civilians at the Centro Comercial Andino".

Witnesses described a deafening noise and smoke filling parts of the shopping mall.

Bomb attacks in South America have not ceased even after Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's biggest guerrilla group, signed a peace treaty in 2016, which gave people high hopes that peace will finally be restored.

Colombia's Attorney General's office said its counter terrorism office has launched an investigation.

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Several people were caught in the blast, with gruesome images appearing on social media amid a mass evacuation. A fourth woman remains in intensive care. In a tweet, Gautier Mignot, France's ambassador to Colombia, vowed support to the victim's family.

Her name is Julie Huynh. Two Colombians also died, the Clinic of the Country said in a statement.

"We ask for seriousness from people making unfounded and reckless accusations", ELN negotiators at peace talks taking place in neighboring Ecuador said on Twitter. This attack has been termed as the attempt to break the peace process.

In February of this year, the ELN claimed responsibility for a bombing that went off in near Bogota's bullring, which resulted in 20 injuries and the death of one police officer. It has been reported that 9 people have been seriously injured and are undergoing treatments. They say that could derail its negotiations with the government.

Authorities have said there have been threats of attacks in Bogota by the so-called Gulf Clan, a group of former right-wing paramilitary fighters who traffic drugs.

The president orders inquiry into incident in commercial center in Bogota where security has improved over the past decade.

Still, the Andino shopping centre would seem a hard target.

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