Guerrillas Set Off Car Bomb at Military HQ, Wounding Three
LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Guerrilla supporters of a nationwide general strike call eased a car rigged with dynamite alongside military joint command headquarters Monday and then exploded the vehicle, wounding three people, police said.
Elsewhere in Lima, police fired tear gas to disperse dozens of students who lobbed firebombs and burned bonfires near three university campuses to back a two-day strike due to start Tuesday to protest government economic policies.
The strike was called by Peru’s most powerful labor organization, the Communist-led National Confederation of Peruvian Workers. The National Federation of Mine, Metal and Steel Workers, began an indefinite strike Monday.
The car bomb blew up next to the downtown military office about 7:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m. EDT). Police said debris wounded three passers-by, broke windows and tore up facades of nearby buildings.
Officials accused the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, a small pro-Cuban rebel group, of carrying out the attack to support the strike.
Analysts said strikes by the 75,000-member miners’ federation and by the general confederation, which claims a membership of 1.5 million, could paralyze most industrial and business activity.
The general strike will be the third against the 3-year-old government of President Alan Garcia, a Social Democrat. The earlier strikes were marked by violence stemming from the growing involvement of the Shining Path, a Mao- inspired guerrilla band.
After two years of rapid growth under Garcia, the economy went into a tailspin this year due to increasing trade and fiscal deficits and an inflation rate expected to reach 400 percent this year.
The general confederation said workers are protesting government-approved food price increases this month of from 20 to 100 percent.
The government declared the general strike illegal and ordered armed police to ride buses Tuesday to make sure workers reach their jobs.
The Labor Ministry rejected the miners’ chief demand for unified contract negotiations. Collective contracts now are decided separately at each of the country’s mines, whose production traditionally accounts for more than 50 percent of the nation’s income.
Miners from Peru’s largest firms, including state-owned Centromin and U.S.-owned Southern Peru Copper Corp., have joined the work stoppage, the mine federation said.