SANTIAGO – A Banco del Estado branch sustained damage to its exterior when a bomb exploded early Monday in Santiago, Chilean police said.
The bomb went off at 2:45 a.m. outside the bank office on Jose Pedro Alessandri avenue in the capital’s Macul district.
The blast shattered windows and started a fire that caused additional damage.
The volunteer fire department quickly extinguished the fire, while bomb specialists from the Carabineros militarized police force gathered evidence at the scene, police said.
Residents told investigators they saw two people leaving the area after placing a bag near the bank’s ATMs.
The bomb was made from a fire extinguisher filled with gunpowder, police said.
Anarchist pamphlets were found near the Banco del Estado branch, Radio Bio Bio reported.
In February, unidentified individuals set off fire bombs at a Banco Santander office and a Bancostado branch in Ñuñoa, a Santiago suburb.
Security cameras captured images of two masked individuals planting a bomb at the Banco Santander ATM, which was completely destroyed, police said.
The Bancostado branch sustained damage to its doors, ceiling and windows.
More than two dozen bombings have been staged in Chile since 2006, targeting banks, large corporations, churches and public buildings.
In November, the trial of half a dozen suspects accused of setting off 20 bombs between 2006 and 2010 started at the Justice Center in Santiago.
Responsibility for the blasts is usually claimed by anarchists or anti-globalization groups, some of them linked to Chile’s disgruntled Mapuche Indians.
The defendants are being tried for planting bombs and financing terrorist activities.
A total of 476 witnesses and 152 experts are slated to be called to testify during the trial, which is expected to last at least six months.
The six defendants are part of a group of 14 people arrested in August 2010 for belonging to anarchist groups.
Prosecutors withdrew the conspiracy charges against 13 of the suspects on Oct. 4, and eight of them were allowed to go free.
A member of one of the anarchist groups linked by authorities to the attacks died in May 2009 when the bomb he was carrying in a backpack exploded while he was riding a bicycle in Santiago, while another anarchist lost a hand, three fingers on his other hand and was partially blinded when a bomb went off as he was preparing to plant it at a bank branch in June. EFE