Police said the explosion tore through a restroom in the mall that was crowded with people ahead of Father's Day.

People stand outside the Andino shopping center after it was evacuated.
People stand outside the Andino shopping center after it was evacuated.

At least three people were killed and nine injured after an explosive device detonated in a restroom in a busy upscale shopping centre in Colombia's capital on Saturday, officials said.

The Andino shopping centre in an exclusive area of Bogota was evacuated after the blast at around 5 pm local time in the women's restroom. The plaza was packed with people buying gifts ahead of Father's Day celebrations on Sunday, authorities said.

TRT World's Oliver Whitfield-Miocic has the story.

Police said the device was placed in a toilet bowl in the second-floor restroom. President Juan Manuel Santos denounced the attack and promised to bring those responsible to justice.

"We won't let terrorism frighten us," Santos said from inside the shopping centre.

"Bogotanos should feel safe and protected. We won't let our guard down but we mustn't panic. That's what terrorists want."

One of the victims was a 23-year-old French woman who had been volunteering in a poor area of the city, Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa told reporters.

Security has improved in Bogota over the last decade as police and military increased surveillance and put more armed officials on the streets. At one time all bags were checked at the entrance to malls, but that has been scaled back in recent years. -AFP
Security has improved in Bogota over the last decade as police and military increased surveillance and put more armed officials on the streets. At one time all bags were checked at the entrance to malls, but that has been scaled back in recent years. -AFP

Streets surrounding the mall were closed and buildings evacuated by police and ambulances raced to the scene as bomb squad specialists combed the area in a search for additional devices.

Security has improved in Bogota over the last decade as police and military increased surveillance and put more armed officials on the streets. At one time all bags were checked at the entrance to shopping malls, but that has been vastly scaled back in recent years.

Sniffer dogs still check cars at parking facilities in the capital.

A peace accord signed last year with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's biggest rebel group, raised confidence bomb attacks might cease.

The country's second-largest insurgent group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, in February exploded a device in Bogota that injured dozens of police.

ELN, currently negotiating peace with the government, in a tweet condemned the attack against civilians.

Authorities 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.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies