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Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 23:05 GMT
Bogota in chaos after pylon attacks

Police direct traffic in gridlocked Bogota

By Ruth Morris in Bogota

Rebel attacks on electricity pylons appear to be the cause of widespread power cuts in Colombia, which were most acutely felt in the capital, Bogota.

With traffic lights out of service, many of Bogota's already congested streets became completely gridlocked.

Automated teller machines were out of action and hospitals were forced to switch to back-up generators.

Outside Bogota, several central and north-eastern provinces also lost electricity.

Authorities said rebel attacks on electricity pylons were the most likely cause of the massive power outage.

Privatisation protest

Colombia's second biggest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army, (ELN) bombed more than 200 pylons last year to protest at the privatisation of electricity companies.

Over the weekend they hit several more electricity towers and a sub-station.

Within seven hours the lights were back on but Colombian cabinet ministers continued to lament the ELN's sabotage campaign.

Finance Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo said the dynamite attacks only hurt prospects for peace.

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12 Jan 00 | Americas
Colombia rebels end New Year truce
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