Incident Summary:

05/02/2002: Suspected members of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC)threw a gas cylinder mortar bomb at a church in Bojaya, Colombia. The force of the explosion destroyed the church and nearby mud huts. 119 people were killed and another 80 were injured in the explosion. The church bombing appeared to be a mistaken target as the FARC was battling paramilitary forces in the region for several days prior to the incident. The Colombian government blamed the FARC, but the United Nations also held paramilitary forces and the Government of Colombia responsible for the incident along with the FARC.

GTD ID:
200205020004

When:
2002-05-02

Country:
Colombia

Region:
South America

Province/administrative
region/u.s. state:

Choco

City:
Bojaya

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Bombing/Explosion
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Religious Figures/Institutions
Name of Entity A Church
Specific Description A Church in the town of Bojaya
Nationality of Target Colombia
Additional Information
Hostages No
Property Damage Yes
Extent of Property Damage Minor (likely < $1 million)
Value of Property Damage Unknown
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Explosives/Bombs/Dynamite Projectile (rockets, mortars, RPGs, etc.)
Weapon Details
The bomb was described as a gas cylinder mortar bomb. One source claimed it was an Ulster-style bomb that FARC acquired from the Irish Republican Army.
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Doubt Terrorism Proper (more) No
Additional Information Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian paramilitary forces, one source called them the Peasant Self-Defense Groups of Cordoba and Uraba, were reportedly fighting in the Choco Department region since April 29, 2002. The incident appeared to have been a mistaken bombing by the FARC. The FARC made statements that they did not mean to hit the church and claimed to just be fighting the paramilitary forces.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) (suspected) No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators Unknown
Number of Captured Perpetrators 0
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 119 Fatalities / 80 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 119
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 80
Number of U.S. Injured 0
Number of Perpetrators Injured Unknown
Sources
“UN Report Blames FARC, AUC, Colombian Government for Bojaya Massacre,” El Tiempo, May 21, 2002.
“Colombia: Death Toll Reaches 100 in FARC-Paramilitary Clashes,” El Tiempo, May 3, 2002.
“Colombia Shoots Down Copter That Aided Paramilitary Fighters,” The New York Times, May 7, 2002.