Chile’s Terrorist Attacks Mount, Leave 15 Injured

EspañolTerrorists set off a bomb in a supermarket in Chile’s port city of Viña del Mar on Tuesday evening. The attack comes a day after a similar explosion at the Escuela Militar train station in the nation’s capital city, Santiago. Monday’s bombing left 14 injured in the worst terrorist attack in Chile since the country’s return to democracy in 1990.

In the Viña del Mar explosion, the homemade device was detonated in a trash can around 9:00 p.m. local time. The blast injured supermarket employee Edith Mardones Gamboa, 43, according to a report from El Mercurio.

After several hours of treatment, Mardones was released from a local hospital. Police sources say the device was made of a mixture of shrapnel and hydrochloric acid.

Under the direction of prosecutor Patricio Toro, members of the Police Special Operations Group (GOPE) conducted the initial search for those responsible for the attack. Meanwhile, detectives from Police Investigations (PDI) have attempted to identify the culprits using footage from the store’s security cameras.

The Santiago Attack

The explosion in the Chilean capital took place Monday, in an area very close to the Escuela Militar train station, in an upscale neighborhood in Santiago visited by at least 150,000 people each day.

As with the Viña del Mar explosion, the device was detonated in a trash can.

The Santiago attack left 14 people injured, including several compound fractures, and one victim whose fingers were amputated.

Initial Suspects

Three suspects from Monday’s attack have been identified using video evidence from the 21 security cameras near the entrance to the train station, as well as physical evidence left at the crime scene.

Information published by local news outlets offers a list of 50 suspects with ties to anti-government groups. Investigators will compare archived images of the suspects with the images captured at the scene.

Prosecutor Francisco Bravo told CNN that the device was put in place about 20 minutes before the explosion. Christian Toledo, a second prosecutor working on the case, has said he believes there may be a connection between the Santiago bombing and a Supreme Court ruling issued that same day that upheld the conviction of three former Lautaristas. The three Mapuche radicals were originally convicted in 2007 for the murder of Corporal Luis Moyano.

In a January 2012 statement from prison, the three men declared their innocence, and claimed their convictions were part of a “fiction of military tribunals.”

“As enemies of the Chilean state, we are concrete faces that display an alternative lifestyle where we have nothing to do with norms, values, and the subjugation imposed by the rich and their structures. We are prisoners of a government of the elite and their class, where the state holds us hostage to its legal framework in its corporate jails,” their statement read.

Others, like intelligence specialist Andrés Gómez, believe the attacks may be linked to the anniversary of the coup led by Agosto Pinochet in 1973.

Bachelet Responds

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared her administration will treat those responsible for the attack with a heavy hand: “I have met with the Operational Safety Committee — comprised of police, judicial authorities, and lawmakers — to coordinate all the necessary actions that allow us to strengthen public security efforts and bring the perpetrators of this terrorist attack to justice as soon as possible,” she said.

The Santiago Metro is considering switching to these transparent containers.

The president sought to maintain calm among the Chilean population. She ordered Interior Minister Rodrigo Peñailillo to strengthen security in subways and the surrounding areas by sending 500 police officers to train stations, and another 2,300 to patrol the city.

The Carabiniers of Chile announced the creation of a National Intelligence, Drugs, and Criminal Investigation force, led by Bruno Villalobos Krumm, for the purpose of “optimizing relevant human, logistical, and information resources in the areas of tactical and operational management.”

Secretary General Álvaro Elizalde called for political unity prior to the meeting with the president: “When faced with such difficulties, societies are tested, and they should respond with unity. This will be the feeling in the meeting the president of the Republic will hold with her political committee. [The president will] call together all parties across the political spectrum to send a forceful message that, in Chile, this type of behavior, and crimes as serious as those that occurred Monday, are unacceptable.”

Senator Alberto Espina of the National Renovation party (RN) stated he believes the government has been late to respond to the existence of violent terrorist groups within the country: “There is current legislation, which improves police and prosecutorial powers, allowing for the better execution of investigations that will detain and punish the perpetrators of this crime with a sentence of between 20 years and life in prison.”

Translated by Alex Clark-Youngblood.

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