Colombia’s Interior Minister on Monday called to step up security in the Caribbean region after a bomb attack on the office of an aspiring governor in the city of Santa Marta.
The attack on the office was the 130th violent attack on a candidate taking part in the October 25 local elections in which Colombians will elect their governors, mayors, and deputy and council members.
The attack is the 16th of its kind in Colombia this year, said electoral observers.
While Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo urged increased security measures in the province, the electoral observers said that violence targeting election candidates have occurred throughout Colombia’s national territory.
According to civilian electoral observer MOE, the violence peaked in March and April when political parties were defining their support for individual candidates.
Subsequently, between July and August, Colombia saw “a response to these candidacies through violence in different places in the country,” the MOE said in a report on pre-electoral political violence.
Violent incidents ahead of the 2015 elections
In total, 14 candidates were assassinated, 54 received death threats, 16 survived attacks, one candidate disappeared and four candidates were kidnapped.
The MOE was unable to recognize a pattern of violence or one common suspected perpetrator of the violence.
Most attacks took place in towns where at least one of Colombia’s many illegal armed groups are active.
However, unlike in the past when left-wing guerrillas or right-wing paramilitaries would engage in violent national campaigns in election years, no such military offensive seems to be taking place this year, the MOE said.
In fact, electoral violence has decreased compared to previous election years, according to the observers. In 2011, when Colombia also held local elections, a total of 253 violent incidents were registered.
The violence that took place ahead of this year’s elections was concentrated in regions with a lot of illegal activity in gold mining and drug trafficking.