May 15, 2000: ‘Collar bomb’ killing by FARC in Colombia

On May 15, 2000 the Colombian FARC put an explosive collar around the neck of a woman, killing her and a man who tried to neutralise the device.

CHIQUINQUIRA, COLOMBIA – It is one thing to demand ransom for someone’s release; it is quite another to put a bomb around someone’s neck.

Have you seen the film What About Bob? You haven’t? Are you a Bill Murray fan? If so this has to rank as one of his best (that and The Man Who Knew Too Little – a spy spoof).

There is a scene near the end that bears on the featured attack for today. Psychiatrist Leo Marvin (played by Richard Dreyfus) has been treating ‘Bob’ (Bill Murray’s character) for years and when Bob hounds Leo at his cottage the latter is so fed up that he places an explosive vest on him to rid himself once and for all of this troublesome patient. Bob sees this as a metaphor for his life and ends up taking it off in Leo’s house, where it explodes and destroys the entire structure.

In today’s attack something similar was used, but with lethal effect.

On this day in 2000

The Frente Armada Revolucionaria de Colombia (the FARC) placed an explosive collar around the neck of a woman from whom they demanded money. When a technician tried to remove it his arm was blown off and he later died in hospital: the woman also died.

It’s the first time in the history of the war that we’ve seen such a macabre act.

General Fabio Bedoya of the Colombian army’s 1st Brigade

FARC often financed itself in part through kidnappings and armed extortion, and sometimes killed those who refuse to pay. Family members of Mrs. Elvia Cortez, aged 53 (the victim) were present when the collar exploded, and were seen afterwards in tears. She was the mother of four children. Another of the FARC’s thousands of casualties.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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