Copyright 1989 Newspaper Publishing PLC
December 19 1989, Tuesday
SECTION: Foreign News ; Pg. 8
LENGTH: 312 words
HEADLINE: US Bomb 'linked' to Colombia
BYLINE: From MARC CHAMPION in Washington
FEARS that the long arm of the Colombian drug cartels might reach into the US to attack American judges and politicans appeared to spring to life yesterday, after a Bomb was removed from a courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia, and reports in the US and Colombia suggested there were plots to assassinate President Bush.
The news prompted questions about whether Mr Bush could continue with a visit to Cartagena, Colombia, planned for 15 February. But Mr Bush rejected any notion that he should cancel the trip.
Rumours of cartel-backed assassination squads loose in the US have been current since the Colombian President, Virgilio Barco, backed by the US, began a crackdown on drug traffickers. Mr Barco's campaign claimed its highest prize last Friday, when police killed the Medellin cartel leader, Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha. A Bogota newspaper, El Espectador, reported yesterday that Colombian police were searching for a group of people with whom Rodriguez Gacha had recently planned an assassination attempt on Mr Bush. The latest edition of Newsweek has reported that the drug cartels have been attempting to recruit Middle Eastern terrorists to hit targets in the US, with a reward of dollars 30m ( pounds 19m) for killing Mr Bush.
The possibility that the Colombian cartels may be operating in the US was driven home yesterday, when a X-ray machine in Atlanta's courthouse detected a pipe-Bomb in time for it to be defused. On Saturday one of the most senior judges in the US, Robert Vance, 58, was killed by a similar device sent through the post to his home in Alabama.
FBI agents were exploring the possiblity that Colombian drug traffickers were responsible, but added that this was pure speculation. A drug connection to the murder is probable, because 60 per cent of the cases Judge Vance's heard were drug-related.
Foreign News Page 8
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