Bomb blast in Chile wounds 10; government blames ''terrorists''

A bomb exploded next to an underground train station in the Chilean capital of Santiago on Monday afternoon, wounding at least 10 people, and the government said it bore the signs of "a terrorist" act.

Reuters| Last Updated: Sep 09, 2014, 04:31 AM IST

Santiago: A bomb exploded next to an underground train station in the Chilean capital of Santiago on Monday afternoon, wounding at least 10 people, and the government said it bore the signs of "a terrorist" act.

The blast occurred at lunchtime in a fast-food restaurant in a small shopping and eating area next to the Escuela Militar metro station in the affluent residential and shopping neighborhood of Las Condes.

"This is a cowardly act because it has as its objective to hurt people, create fear and even kill innocent people," President Michelle Bachelet said.

"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 said.

Anti-terrorism laws give prosecutors more powers and allow for harsher sentencing.

Bachelet asked for residents to remain calm, saying, "This is horrible, tremendously reprehensible, but Chile is and remains a safe country."

No group has claimed responsibility, and the police said the attack was being investigated.

"This is an act that has all the hallmarks of a terrorist deed," Alvaro Elizalde, the government`s chief spokesman, said in remarks to journalists outside La Moneda presidential palace. "There is no doubt. And it has been carried out with the intention of hurting innocent people."

Chile, which returned to democracy in 1990 after a 17-year dictatorship, is normally one of Latin America`s most stable countries and has not suffered an attack of this magnitude in at least 20 years.

However, there have been a number of low-level attacks by anarchist groups in recent years, including in July, and Monday`s blast will put pressure on Bachelet to respond at a time when her popularity is slipping and she has her plate full with a reform drive and worsening economy.