Category Archives: News

Students seen mocking Native Americans could face expulsion

ADAM BEAM and BRIAN MELLEY

AP,

10:55 AM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Students at a Kentucky Catholic school who were involved in a video showing them mocking Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial after a Washington rally could potentially face expulsion, according to the diocese.

In a joint statement , the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School apologized and said they are investigating and will take “appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky.

Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Native American man singing and playing a drum. Other students, some wearing Covington clothing and many wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and sweat shirts, surrounded them, chanting, laughing and jeering.

“We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips,” the diocese statement read. “This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.”

According to the “Indian Country Today” website, Phillips is an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran who holds an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.

Marcus Frejo, a member of the Pawnee and Seminole tribes who is also known as Chief Quese Imc, said he had been a part of the march and was among a small group of people remaining after the rally when the boisterous students began chanting slogans such as “make America great” and then began doing the haka, a traditional Maori dance. In a phone interview, Frejo told The Associated Press he felt they were mocking the dance.

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting before Phillips and Frejo approached them.

Frejo said he joined Phillips to defuse the situation, singing the anthem from the American Indian Movement with both men beating out the tempo on hand drums.

Although he feared a mob mentality that could turn ugly, Frejo said he was at peace singing despite the scorn. He briefly felt something special happen as they repeatedly sang the tune.

“They went from mocking us and laughing at us to singing with us. I heard it three times,” Frejo said. “That spirit moved through us, that drum, and it slowly started to move through some of those youths.”

Eventually a calm fell over the group of students and they broke up and walked away.

The videos prompted a torrent of outrage online. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that the footage “brought me to tears,” while actor Chris Evans tweeted that the students’ actions were “appalling” and “shameful.”

As of Sunday morning, Covington Catholic High School’s Facebook page was not available and its Twitter feed was set to private.

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GOP senators try to figure how out closely to run with Trump

Republican senators up for re-election in 2020 are trying to figure out how closely to align themselves with President Donald Trump.

Sen. Cory Gardner helped devise the GOP’s strategy of pushing Senate candidates closer to Trump in 2018. But heading into his own re-election bid in Colorado, he’s allowing more distance with the president.

Other Republicans, including Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Martha McSally of Arizona, are doing their own balancing acts.

Still, some Republicans will probably align themselves closer to Trump as they see the political power he brings to their home states.

Strategists say it’s much too early to assess how the partial government shutdown may affect the races. Republicans now control the Senate with a 53-47 majority.

One of the 4 Americans killed in Syria this week was a Bowdoin College grad

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — One of the four Americans killed in a suicide bomb attack in Syria this week was a Navy sailor and married mother of two whose father is a high-ranking officer in the New York State Police, officials said Friday.

The Pentagon identified three of the four Americans killed in Wednesday’s attack in the northern Syrian town of Manbij.

They are Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, who was based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, of Pine Plains, New York, and based at Fort Meade, Maryland; and a civilian, Scott A. Wirtz, from St. Louis.

The Pentagon hasn’t identified the fourth casualty, a civilian contractor.

Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent. —Handout / AFP / Getty Images

The attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, also wounded three U.S. troops and was the deadliest assault on U.S. troops in Syria since American forces went into the country in 2015.

The Pentagon’s statement said Kent was from upstate New York but didn’t give a hometown. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Friday that she was from Pine Plains and was the daughter of state police field commander Col. Stephen Smith, the agency’s third-highest position.

“We owe her our eternal gratitude for her selfless dedication and sacrifice,” Cuomo said while ordering flags on state government buildings to be flown at half-staff in Kent’s honor.

Tara Grieb, principal of Stissing Mountain Junior-Senior High School in Pine Plains, said Kent grew up in the small, picturesque Hudson Valley town 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of New York City and graduated from the local high school in 2001.

Grieb said Kent moved away after enlisting in the Navy in 2003.

“She was an honor student and a fabulous person,” Grieb said. “We are proud of her and her service and we support her family 100 percent in their time of sorrow.”

Kent’s mother, Mary Smith, taught sixth grade in the district until retiring last year, Grieb said.

Kent, who lived in Maryland with her husband and two children, was assigned to the Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66 based at Fort George Meade.

Cryptologic technicians are part of the Navy’s intelligence-gathering apparatus, analyzing encrypted electronic communications and using computers and other technology to compile information on the nation’s enemies.

Cmdr. Joseph Harrison, the unit’s commanding officer, said in a statement that Kent “was a rockstar, an outstanding Chief Petty Officer, and leader to many in the Navy Information Warfare Community.”

Florida’s Palm Beach Post reported that Farmer’s parents loaded suitcases into a friend’s SUV on Friday morning before heading to Dover, Delaware, for the return of their son’s remains.

Duncan Farmer characterized his son as “a good man. Good son. Good father. Good husband.” Then he added, “A good friend.”

Duncan Farmer said they knew Jonathan, a Green Beret, was in Syria, but “we didn’t know exactly where.”

Jonathan Farmer was born in Boynton Beach, Florida, south of West Palm Beach. He grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, attending the Benjamin School before going to Bowdoin College in Maine.

His father said Jonathan Famer was in the military for 13 years and had been in dangerous places “many times,” including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

He said services will be at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Palm Beach Gardens, but a date hasn’t been set. He said internment will be at Arlington National Cemetery.

In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson asked Missourians to pray for the family of Wirtz, a former Navy SEAL who was working for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency as an operations support specialist.

Wirtz “died bravely serving our nation in a dangerous part of the world, and for that we are grateful,” Parson said.

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The Latest: Congo runner-up: Don’t recognize Tshisekedi

The Latest on Congo’s presidential election (all times local):

2:25 a.m.

Congo’s election runner-up Martin Fayulu is calling on the international community and the Congolese people to not recognize or obey the newly elected president, Felix Tshisekedi, calling himself the country’s only legitimate leader.

Fayulu’s statement was issued minutes after the Constitutional Court rejected his challenges to the Dec. 30 vote and confirmed that Tshisekedi won.

Congo’s government says Tshisekedi’s inauguration is on Tuesday.

Fayulu’s statement urges the Congolese people to not recognize anyone who “illegitimately claims” to be president. He has urged nationwide protests against what he calls a constitutional coup d’etat.”

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2:10 a.m.

Congo’s election runner-up Martin Fayulu is urging nationwide protests after the Constitutional Court rejected his challenges to the vote and confirmed that Felix Tshisekedi won.

Fayulu says he considers himself Congo’s only legitimate president.

He says that “the constitutional court has just confirmed that it serves a dictatorial regime.” He says the court validated false results in a “constitutional coup d’etat.”

Fayulu had accused Congo’s electoral commission of announcing results dramatically different from ones posted at polling stations around the country. But the court said he did not put forward proof to back his claims.

Congo’s government says Tshisekedi’s inauguration is on Tuesday.

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1:20 a.m.

Congo’s Constitutional Court has declared that Felix Tshisekedi is elected president after it rejected challenges to the vote by the runner-up, Martin Fayulu.

The declaration came minutes after it turned away Fayulu’s request for a recount in the Dec. 30 vote.

Fayulu had accused Congo’s electoral commission of announcing results dramatically different from ones posted at polling stations around the country. Leaked data attributed to the commission shows that Fayulu easily won.

But the court said Fayulu did not put forward proof to back his claims.

The court’s ruling comes shortly after the African Union in an unprecedented move asked Congo to delay announcing the final election results, citing “serious doubts” about the vote. It planned to send a high-level delegation on Monday to find a way out of the electoral crisis, fearing unrest.

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12:45 a.m.

Congo’s Constitutional Court has rejected a challenge to the presidential election results filed by declared runner-up Martin Fayulu.

Fayulu had requested a recount, accusing Congo’s electoral commission of announcing results dramatically different from ones posted at polling stations around the country. Leaked data attributed to the commission shows that Fayulu easily won the Dec. 30 vote over the declared winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi.

The court ruling comes after the African Union in an unprecedented move asked Congo to delay announcing the final election results, citing “serious doubts” about the vote.

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10:10 p.m.

People inside Congo say internet service has returned, 20 days after it was cut off following the elections.

Internet service in Congo had been blocked since Dec. 31 in a likely attempt to dampen speculation about the presidential election results. The Constitutional Court is poised to rule on a challenge to the results filed by declared runner-up Martin Fayulu, who alleges fraud.

The U.S. ambassador to Congo, Mike Hammer, tweeted earlier Saturday saying 20 days without internet in the country are “20 days too many” and that access “needs to be restored now.”

British Ambassador John Murton also had been tweeting regular reminders of the shutdown.

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3:50 p.m.

The party behind the declared winner of Congo’s presidential election is rejecting the African Union’s surprise request to delay announcing the final results amid “serious doubts” about the vote.

The secretary-general of Felix Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress party accuses mining lobbyists of seeking to destabilize Congo and loot the mineral-rich country.

Jean-Marc Kabund’s statement comes as Congo’s Constitutional Court is poised to rule on the declared runner-up’s challenge to the election results, alleging fraud. Kabund’s UDPS party calls on the Congolese people to unite and defend the country’s sovereignty.

Hundreds of Tshisekedi’s supporters are in the streets of the capital, Kinshasa, waving tree branches and banners reading “Congo for the Congolese.”

Runner-up Martin Fayulu seeks a recount in the Dec. 30 vote.

Here’s the AP’s look at what didn’t happen this week

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out. Here are the real facts:

CLAIM: Side-by-side photos circulating widely online as part of the ’10 Year Challenge’ purport to show the nearly complete deterioration of a portion of sea ice from 2008 to 2018.

THE FACTS: The photos, which aim to show the effects of climate change, are of different ice formations and have been falsely captioned. They have been shared more than 200,000 times as part of the “10 Year Challenge” meme, which started on social media to show how something or someone has changed over 10 years. But the comparison uses two completely different ice formations, on different ends of the Earth. One photo, labeled as being from 2008, shows the Getz Ice Shelf in Antarctica. It was taken in November 2016 by Jeremy Harbeck, a NASA scientist, during a research flight for NASA. “In 2008, I was not even working on this project,” Harbeck told The Associated Press. The other image, taken in 2018 by Julienne Stroeve, an ice scientist with the University of Manitoba, shows a remnant of ice in the Chukchi Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean. “This picture is really misleading,” said Stroeve, who said she took the photo while collecting data about ice positions in the summer. “You can’t just cherry pick individual years. You have long-term change happening.” Harbeck’s photo was used Monday with an AP report about a newly released study that found ice in Antarctica is melting more than six times faster than it did in the 1980s.

CLAIM: ‘Tlaib and Omar co-sponsor bill to recognize Muslim holidays as federal holidays’

THE FACTS: The first two Muslim women elected to Congress did not co-sponsor a bill that would federally observe Islamic holidays, as numerous posts circulating online suggest. The posts followed publication of a false story that claimed Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan proposed a bill that would mark Eid al-Fitr, the Islamic holiday that celebrates the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, which means “Feast of Sacrifice,” as federal holidays. The website that distributed the false story carries a disclaimer noting its content is largely fictional. According to legislative records, both congresswomen have co-sponsored a number of bills since taking office on Jan. 3, but none would federally recognize any Islamic holidays.

CLAIM: Side-by-side photos of Obama honoring a ‘talk show host’ and Trump bestowing a medal on a ‘Vietnam war hero,’ appear below the comment ‘NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE?

THE FACTS: The post juxtaposes a photo of former President Barack Obama draping a medal on comedian Ellen DeGeneres and a photo of Trump putting a medal on a war hero, with the suggestion that Obama honors entertainers over veterans. Obama and Trump have both awarded medals to war heroes and entertainers. In the photo of Trump, he is giving the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award, to 71-year-old former Army medic James McCloughan, for saving wounded soldiers during the Vietnam War. In his first two years in office, Trump has given the Medal of Honor out seven times. During Obama’s eight years in office, he awarded the Medal of Honor to 48 servicemen, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. In the photo of Obama, he is honoring DeGeneres with a different award, the Medal of Freedom. The award is the nation’s most prestigious civilian award, recognizing an individual’s “meritorious contributions” to the U.S. Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom to more than 100 people. Trump selected Medal of Freedom honorees for the first time in November, giving the award to seven recipients, ranging from GOP Senator Orrin Hatch to Elvis Presley.

CLAIM: “President Trump got all our favorite foods. It was the best meal we ever had. Then we go and see the coastal elite media trashing it for not being organic vegan. We’re football players, not bloggers. This was a perfect blue collar party.” –Tweet attributed to Clemson quarterback after the team’s White House visit following its national college football championship win.

THE FACTS: The quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, denounced the quote quickly Tuesday after it began circulating on social media. “I never said this by the way,” he said in a tweet. “I don’t know where it came from. However the trip to the White House was awesome!” Ross Taylor, assistant athletic director for Clemson football communications, told The Associated Press, that “everything that is presented in that meme is fabricated.” The false quote circulated on social media paired with a photo of confetti falling on the quarterback after Clemson’s 44-16 win against Alabama on Jan. 7. Trump served the team an array of fast food during their visit to celebrate the team’s win. Trump, a fast food lover, said he even paid for their meal himself because of the partial government shutdown, the AP reported. The choice of menu was criticized by late-night TV hosts and others who found it beneath what should be served to national champions visiting the White House.

This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online.

Find all AP Fact Checks here.

Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter.

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Marches in northern New England to celebrate women’s wins

Women’s marches this weekend are set to highlight the high number of women elected to office in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The marches on Saturday are scheduled for Portland, Maine; Montpelier, Vermont, and Concord, New Hampshire.

Similar marches are expected to take place in cities around the world on Jan. 19, including Washington, D.C.

Two years ago, an outpouring of women marched in the nation’s capital and around the country in opposition to Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The Saturday rallies comes as a record-breaking 72 female lawmakers are serving in Maine’s Democratic-controlled 151-seat Legislature.

The Center for American Women and Politics ranks Vermont fifth in the country for its share of women lawmakers: 39 percent. New Hampshire ranks 14th, while Maine ranks sixth.

Bowdoin College president posts letter on graduate killed in Syria

On Friday, the Pentagon identified three of the four Americans killed in this week’s attack in Syria, including Army Chief Warrant Officer and Bowdoin College graduate Jonathan R. Farmer. Bowdoin’s president, Clayton Rose, posted a letter addressing Farmer’s passing.

You can read the letter in full below:

To the Bowdoin community,

Today we learned the tragic news that our graduate Jonathan R. Farmer ’03 was among nineteen people—including four Americans—who were killed Wednesday when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest inside a restaurant in the Syrian city of Manbij.

Jon, who was thirty-seven at the time of his death, was a US Army Green Beret from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, who had attained the rank of Army Chief Warrant Officer 2. He joined the Army on March 30, 2005, and graduated in 2007 from the Special Forces Qualification Course as an engineer sergeant. Selected to attend the Special Forces Warrant Officer Candidate School, Jon earned his commission in 2016. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and served on ten overseas tours, including six combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, most recently in Syria.

Jon received numerous awards and decorations during his time in the military, including the Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, and the Army Commendation Medal.

Born in Boynton Beach, Florida, Jon lived for a time in Laconia, New Hampshire, before returning as a teenager to Florida, where he attended the Benjamin School in Palm Beach. At Bowdoin, he was a history major and a forward and captain of the 2003-2004 men’s basketball team. His teammate, roommate, and close friend, Michael Harding ’03, remembered Jon today as a “loyal and selfless friend.” Men’s basketball coach Tim Gilbride said Jon was “…a great teammate and competitor” and “a quality person—someone we all enjoyed being around.” In May 2004, Jon was awarded the William J. Fraser Trophy given to the player “who best exemplifies the spirit of Bowdoin basketball.”

Jon is survived by his wife, their four young children, and his parents.

Jon was part of a long and inspiring list of Bowdoin graduates and community members who served and are still serving the common good in the US military. Sadly, he will now join those across the generations at our College who are memorialized on our campus and in our hearts for the ultimate sacrifice made on our behalf.

Sincerely,

Clayton

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Remains of West Virginia airman who died in WWII identified

The remains of a West Virginia airman and two other servicemen who died in Europe during World War II have been identified.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Thursday that Sgt. John Kalausich’s remains have been identified. A memorial service and burial for Kalausich will take place Feb. 23 in Charleston.

On March 21, 1945, Kalausich’s bomber was struck by anti-aircraft artillery while trying to obstruct German troop movements in preparation for the Allied crossing of the Rhine River. He was 19.

In 2016, a German researcher reported a crash site in a horse paddock. Scientists used DNA, dental and anthropological analyses and other evidence to identify Kalausich’s remains.

The remains of the pilot, 2nd Lt. Lynn W. Hadfield, and another crewman, Sgt. Vernon L. Hamilton, were also identified.

Divers swim with giant great white shark off Oahu’s coast

Honolulu Star-Advertiser,

10:10 AM

HONOLULU (AP) — Divers monitoring a rotting whale carcass off the shores of Oahu this week found themselves face-to-face with a massive great white shark, prompting state officials to warn recreational divers and snorkelers to stay out of the water near the dead sperm whale amid reports some people have climbed onto the carcass to take its teeth as souvenirs.

Smaller tiger sharks left when the possibly pregnant great white came to dine on the dead whale Tuesday, diver Ocean Ramsey told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

“She was just this big beautiful gentle giant wanting to use our boat as a scratching post,” said Ramsey, who posted images of the encounter. “We went out at sunrise, and she stayed with us pretty much throughout the day.”

Ramsey studies sharks, advocates for their conservation and leads cage-free shark diving tours. Ramsey and her team observe and identify sharks and share that data with state and federal partners.

Ocean Ramsey talks to reporters about her encounter with a great white shark, Thursday in Haleiwa, Hawaii. —Caleb Jones / AP

Hawaii waters are usually too warm for great whites compared with California’s Pacific coast, where they feed on sea lions and elephant seals, Ramsey said. She estimated this shark was more than 20 feet (6 meters) long and 8 feet (2.4 meters) across.

The giant white might have headed to Hawaii because of hunger and a need for extra nutrients in pregnancy, Ramsey said.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a statement Wednesday that the decomposing whale carcass had drifted to about eight miles (13 kilometers) south of Pearl Harbor after being towed 15 miles (24 kilometers) offshore days earlier.

Ocean Ramsey. —Juan Oliphant via AP

The department said tiger sharks have been “almost continuously” feeding on the whale and said it was aware of photos of the great white.

The agency’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, Chief Jason Redull, said people should stay out of the water around the dead whale.

“We don’t want anyone to get hurt if a shark swimming around the carcass mistakes them as food. Understandably, some people want to get into the water either out of fascination or to get photographs, but it is truly dangerous to be around this carcass with so much shark activity,” he said.

The agency said there are reports people climbed on top of the whale carcass and removed its teeth, which may be a violation of state and federal laws.

Ocean Ramsey. —Juan Oliphant via AP

Officials said the carcass it is currently drifting away from shore, but a predicted shift in the winds could once again push it back toward Oahu.

The shark could be the famed Deep Blue based on her size and markings, Ramsay said. Deep Blue is believed to be the largest white shark ever recorded. Ramsey previously swam with the huge shark on research trips to Guadalupe Island, Mexico.

“Big pregnant females are actually the safest ones to be with — the biggest, oldest ones — because they’ve seen it all, including us,” Ramsey said. “That’s why I kind of call her, like, a grandma shark.”

Sharks usually only bite when they’re curious or mistake people for their natural prey but are unpredictable, she said.

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Death toll in Colombia bombing rises to 21 as threats linger

Colombian authorities were scrambling to identify who was behind a brazen car bombing at a police academy in Bogota that has rattled residents and raised tough questions about lingering security threats in the wake of a peace deal with the nation’s largest rebel group.

Overnight, the death toll from the Thursday morning bombing more than doubled to 21, making it the deadliest attack in Colombia in over a decade.

It proved especially unsettling because the target, the General Santander school, is one of the most protected installations in the capital and indications it may have been the result of a suicide bombing — something unprecedented in decades of political violence in the Andean nation.

President Ivan Duque, visiting the academy in the aftermath, was careful not to attribute blame to any armed group even while condemning what he called a “miserable” terrorist act that recalled some of bloodiest chapters of Colombia’s recent past.

“The terrorists are looking to intimidate us as a society and attack the state,” Duque said in a televised address in which he declared three days of mourning. “Colombia will demonstrate that it is a strong state, united and won’t break in the face of the dementia of these aggressions.”

Among those killed was a top-of-class female cadet from Ecuador, while two visiting students from Panama were among those injured

With the help of security cameras, authorities were quick to identify the suspected bomber as a 56-year-old man with no criminal record named Jose Aldemar Rojas. He died in the attack.

Chief Prosecutor Nestor Martinez said Rojas drove a 1993 Nissan pick-up loaded with 80 kilograms (175 pounds) of pentolite explosive past a security checkpoint and onto the school’s leafy campus, where a start-of-the-year honor ceremony had just finished.

There were reports, so far unconfirmed, that when bomb-sniffing dogs detected the explosives the driver got nervous and floored the vehicle past the barrier and onto the campus, where it exploded moments later in front of a red tile-roofed dormitory for female cadets.

Videos shot on cellphones show panicked officers hauling injured colleagues on stretchers with debris and body parts strewn in front the skeletal steel remains of the still-burning truck.

Little is known about Rojas. Records show he bought the car last year and had it inspected six months ago in the eastern city of Arauca, near the border with Venezuela.

The same volatile area is a stronghold of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, the country’s last remaining rebel group following a 2016 accord between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that saw some 7,000 rebels disarm.

Investigators are reportedly looking into Rojas’ possible ties with the rebel group after reports — so far unconfirmed — that he was a longtime explosives expert for an ELN cell who went by the alias Mocho Kiko.

The ELN has been stepping up its attacks on police targets and oil infrastructure amid a standoff with the conservative Duque government over stalled peace talks. A year ago, the group claimed responsibility for the bombing of a police station in the coastal city of Barranquilla that left five officers dead.

But until now the Cuban-inspired group, which is believed to have around 1,500 guerrilla fighters, has never been capable or much interested in carrying out such a high profile act of violence. Thursday’s attack was the deadliest since a 2003 car bombing against the elite Bogota social club El Nogal that left 36 dead, an incident that hardened Colombians’ resolve against the FARC.

Duque has demanded the ELN cease all attacks and kidnappings as a condition for restarting the talks and has condemned Venezuela and Cuba for allegedly providing a safe haven for rebel leaders even as their troops continue to sow violence in Colombia.

For decades, residents of Bogota lived in fear of being caught in a bombing by leftist rebels or Pablo Escobar’s Medellin drug cartel.

But as Colombia’s conflict has wound down, attacks have fallen to historically low levels and residents in turn have lowered their guard, something that magnified the shock at Thursday’s carnage.

“This is the maximum impact any terrorist act could have,” said Jorge Restrepo, director of the Conflict Analysis Resource Center.

Restrepo said he expects the attack to be a defining moment for Duque, who was elected last year on a law and order platform highly critical of his predecessor’s peacemaking but since taking office has taken a more moderate stance.

Amid the tragedy there was an outpouring of solidary.

Dozens of residents stood in line at four collection points throughout the city to donate blood to treat the more than 70 victims.

Lorena Mora, 25, said she spent two anguishing hours trying to find out what happened to her brother, who entered the police school seven months ago. She eventually found him at the police hospital where most of the injured officers were transported. She said he was still stunned but otherwise well, except for a sprained knee.

“When I managed to get inside and see him,” she said, “I felt instant peace.”

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AP writers Christine Armario and Cesar Garcia contributed to this report.