Chilean officials believe that an explosion in the Santiago subway system on Monday was a terrorist attack.
“This is an act that has all the hallmarks of a terrorist deed,” declared government spokesman Alvaro Elizalde regarding the incident that has left at least eight people injured including two in serious condition.
“There is no doubt. And it has been carried out with the intention of hurting innocent people,” he added.
“I was having lunch, I felt the noise and we went out to see and we saw a lot of smoke, people running and shouting,” said Joanna Magneti, an eyewitness to the explosion that occurred at a fast food restaurant by the Military Academy metro station.
First responder Fernando Zapata told the press that among the wounded was a cleaning woman who lost several fingers due to the explosion.
Update: President Michelle Bachelet urged her countrymen to remain calm in light of the bombing on Monday.
"This is a cowardly act because it has as its objective to hurt people, create fear and even kill innocent people," said Bachelet to the press after she visited some of the injured at a Santiago medical clinic.
"We're going to use all the weight of the law, including the anti-terrorist law, because those responsible for these acts have to pay," she added.
Elizalde also mentioned that the government would invoke anti-terrorism laws that grant prosecutors more powers and allow for harsher sentencing. These laws, which were created during the regime of the late Gen. Augusto Pinochet decades ago, have been criticized by the U.N. and human rights groups for being unfairly applied against the indigenous Mapuche community.
Thus far nobody has claimed responsibility for causing the explosion apart from deputy Interior Minister Mahmud Aleuy mentioning that there are two “young” suspects who may have fled in a car. Yet he did not speculate if today’s explosion may be linked to this Thursday’s 41st anniversary of the Pinochet-led military coup against the civilian government.
“I prefer not to hastily reach conclusions. Chile is not a dangerous country but we do have demented people like the ones that caused (the explosion),” Aleuy said.
Local prosecutor Francisco Bravo said that today’s bombing is similar to an explosion that occurred at the Los Domenicos subway station on July 13th. At the time, a train conductor found late at night an improvised explosive device (IED) that was then detonated while he as away from the train.
The July incident, along with several other non-fatal bombings this year in Santiago, may be the fault of anarchist groups seeking the liberation of two imprisoned anarchists in Spain:
Anarchist groups in Chile frequently use IEDs against symbols of the state, particularly branches of state-run bank Banco de Estado (BDE) in the capital, Santiago. Other targets have included biomedical research facilities, agricultural companies, and businessmen with alleged links to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
The IEDs deployed during these attacks have either taken the form of explosive-filled fire extinguishers or manipulated gas canisters. Recent events include an attack against a BDE branch in the town of Talagante, in Santiago Metropolitan Region, on 7 June, and another against a police station on 5 June. The last recorded IED attack on the metro was in 1986.
Video Source – teleSUR via YouTube
Online Sources including Update - Jane's Intelligence Weekly; The Santiago Times; La Tercera; La Nacion; BBC News; ABC News; BBC News; Reuters