A homemade bomb made from a fire extinguisher and a timing deviceplaced in a trash can–according to the reconstructionsof the investigators–exploded Monday at lunchtime in a foodcourt of the Escuela Militar subway station, the busiest in Santiago, Chile.
The socialist government of President Michelle Bachelet has definedthe deed a “terrorist act,” which resulted in 14wounded, two critically, in an area where 150,000 people pass by every day.Near the scene of the explosion was also the mother of the president, AngelaJeria, though she was unaffected by the explosion.
“What happened today is horrible, completely reprehensible,”the socialist leader said. “But Chile is and will continue being a safecountry.”
The attack was carried out by “cowards … trying to harmpeople, fuel fear, and even kill innocent people,” Bachelet said.
Speaking to journalists at the La Moneda presidentialpalace, AlvaroElizalde, the government’s spokesperson, called the act “abominableand atrocious, deserving a vigorous response and, of course, the unity of allChileans.” He also said that the government is preparing to apply the controversialanti-terrorism laws, a legacy of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet(1973-1990), for those responsible. The law allowed authorities more powers todetain and interrogate suspects, harsher sentences and masked witnesses.
So far this year, Santiago has seen the explosion of some thirtybombs near police stations, public buildings, and banks. In some cases anarchistgroups have claimed responsibility for the attacks. The right-wing oppositionhas seized the opportunity to assail the center-left coalition in power:Chadwick, former Minister of the Interior of the Conservative government priorto Bachelet’s return to power (she had been president from 2006-2010 and waselected again in 2014). “Let’s follow the examplesof other countries who know how to act and have acted more decisively againstterrorism than we have done in recent months,” Chadwick said.
The presidentof the opposition National Renovation party, Cristian Monckeberg, said the recentincident “could have been avoided,” and added that “a pattern is repeatingitself.”
The most serious bombingof the subway in Santiago dates back to June 1986, to the final period of the Pinochetdictatorship, which resulted in one dead and seven wounded at the Tobalaba station.The attack yesterday comes close to the anniversary of the coup of September 11,1973 as well as the September 11, 2001 attack in New York.