The bombing of a party in Ituango, Colombia, is an indefensible attack on civilians and the perpetrators should be prosecuted, Human Rights Watch said today.

On August 14, 2008, a bomb exploded on a crowded street as hundreds of residents of Ituango, in the northwestern state of Antioquia, celebrated the town’s traditional “Festival of Ituanguinity.” According to media reports, seven people were killed, including several minors, and around 52 were injured.

“This is a brutal and inhuman attack with no justification, and it should be universally condemned,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.

Authorities have attributed the bombing to the 18th front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) left-wing guerrillas. While the motives of the attack remain unclear, the Office of the Ombudsman of Colombia (Defensoría del Pueblo) had, through its Early Warning System, previously issued a report warning authorities that civilians in Ituango were at risk due to the activities of the FARC and drug traffickers in the region.

Human Rights Watch said the bombing would not be out of character for the FARC. In several reports, Human Rights Watch has documented the FARC’s systematic practices of recruitment of child soldiers, use of antipersonnel landmines, and kidnappings and killings of civilians.

“The FARC has continuously shown a blatant disregard for the lives of civilians as well as humanitarian and human rights law,” said Vivanco.