Authorities in Colombia’s western Pacific port city of Buenaventura have temporarily banned the carrying of weapons and sale of alcohol following a guerrilla attack that left nearly 500,000 people without power, according to the BBC World News.
The decision had been made after an attack on the city’s electricity towers left nearly half a million people in one of Colombia’s most important harbors without power since Monday evening.
The incident and lack of power have led authorities in the coastal city in the state of Valle de Cauca to prohibit alcohol and the carrying of weapons, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
Local authorities fear that local gang members might take advantage of the powerless, darkened city to boost Buenaventura’s high murder rate.
Apart from attacks from guerrilla groups like the FARC, Buenaventura is also heavily affected by gangs that traffic drugs to the US and Central America, according to Colombian newspaper El Espectador.
The port town’s location makes it a strategic place for Pacific drug trafficking, which shows in the number of murders. From January to April 2014 there have been 87 deaths, eight missing persons, and more than 1,000 displaced.
Buenaventura Mayor Bartolo Valencia asked the military to secure the area to allow workers to re-establish the power as soon as possible, but this could last up to three days, according to the BBC.
Hospitals, health centers, and schools are also deprived of electricity, which have triggered an emergency situation in Buenaventura.
The hospitals and some other public institutions have generators, but the residents have no way of keeping their food refrigerated.
President Juan Manuel Santos blamed the attack on the FARC and warned that continuing attacks could interrupt the ongoing peace talks.
Attacks on the prominent port city are frequent. The most recent alleged FARC attack against the city with large-scale consequences occurred in 2013, when the guerrilla group was accused of damaging an electrical tower that disabled the local power network.
As of June 30, 15 dismembered bodies have been found in Buenaventura this year as the city has become a battleground for warring drug interests hoping to control the port’s strategic access to the burgeoning southeast Asian market and smuggling routes through Central America.