Chile seeks to reinstate undercover intelligence agents

Chile today said it would seek to reinstate the use of undercover agents in its intelligence services after a series of bomb attacks in the Santiago area.

Santiago: Chile today said it would seek to reinstate the use of undercover agents in its intelligence services after a series of bomb attacks in the Santiago area.

Although the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has the right to use informants, it is not permitted to use undercover agents.

But after recent bombings, the government is moving to strengthen its intelligence services, including putting forward a bill in Congress that would reinstate the use of undercover operatives.

The practice was banned after the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, during which intelligence agencies used agents to infiltrate opposition groups.

"It is very important that the NIA has essential operational functions," Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo told local media.

And NIA director Gustavo Villalobos told the El Mercurio newspaper that, in investigating and preventing the bombings "undercover agents, informants, and intelligence work is the most relevant."

On Monday, a homemade bomb exploded in the crowded Escuela Militar (Military School) subway station in Santiago, wounding 14 people.

The unclaimed attack was the worst of its kind since the fall of Pinochet, and the most destructive of some 200 unsolved bombings that have targeted banks, gyms, embassies and restaurants in the South American country over the past five years.

Two more explosions were reported Wednesday in a supermarket on the central coast, injuring one person and leaving two more with hearing difficulties.

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