EFEBogota

Colombian police on Tuesday captured five members of a criminal organization that - at the behest of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, guerrillas - placed and detonated explosives in recent weeks in this capital, authorities said.

"This organization offered its services to the highest bidder, and we have clarified that they were receiving money and being hired by the ELN ... which paid for their services to place explosive devices in the city," Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said at a press conference.

The authorities only provided the identity of one of the suspects, Wilmer Johan Cañon Cañon, alias "Pedro," who the minister said has direct links with the ELN and contacted other people to prepare and place the bombs.

According to Pinzon, the police finally nabbed the members of the band with the help of the Attorney General's Office and the military thanks to "monitoring, intelligence work and citizens' information."

Since February in Bogota, there have been at least five explosions in different neighborhoods, the latest of them on March 12 in the southern Quiroga sector as a police vehicle was passing by, an attack that wounded three civilians and five police officers.

The head of the National Police, Gen. Rodolfo Palomino, said that the operation, carried out in different parts of the capital, prevented two new attacks that apparently were to target neighborhood police facilities known as Immediate Attention Centers.

Palomino said that the investigation had verified the police hypothesis that the blasts were linked to the ELN "and today we can say that that has been confirmed."

The operation also resulted in the seizure of assorted explosives, two timers, three firearms, military ammunition and other material reserved for the private use of the armed forces, all of which the band was intending to use to carry out the new attacks, police said.