Grocery Stores Closed After Early-Morning Bomb Explosion
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ Police barred holiday grocery shoppers from supermarkets Sunday after a bomb exploded and six other bombs were deactivated before stores opened. The authorities blamed guerrillas.
No one was hurt, and damage was still being added up, said police spokesman Cesar Augusto Somoza.
The explosion at 8:15 a.m. (9:15 a.m. EDT) ripped through a supermarket 200 yards from the President Rafael Callejas’ offices, the spokesman said. The presidential offices were closed for the holidays.
A police bomb squad deactivated six powerful bombs at three other supermarkets, the police spokesman said. Two of the six were discovered at a grocery store in a mall 300 yards south of the U.S. Embassy.
Police ordered supermarkets to stay closed until the afternoon while they searched for bombs.
Somoza linked the bombs to an announcement by the Morazan Liberation Front, which said on the radio Sunday it was beginning an offensive against Callejas’ government for its economic policies.
The 11-year-old Morazan Liberation Front detonated two other bombs earlier this month, police said. The organization, a militant wing of the Honduran Communist Party, is blamed for numerous dynamite attacks since 1983.
Police said they had arrested two front members, Juan Jose Vaca Nunez, 30, and Marco Tulio Funez Duarte, 31, on suspicion of bombing and bombing attempts. Both are union leaders at a subsidiary of the Cincinnati-based banana company Chiquita Brands International Inc.
The guerrillas’ announcement said they ″initiated an offensive of solidarity with the people and against those who, not caring about Hondurans’ suffering and oppression, do dirty business in the name of the governing National Party’s structural adjustment policy.″
On March 12, barely two months after Callejas’ inauguration, his administration put into effect a series of austerity measures that have crippled consumers’ buying power. The administration approved a 300 percent increase in electricity, water and phone rates.
Prices have soared for basic products such as meat, beans, milk, bread, eggs, and fuel. The cost of gasoline rose 147 percent between June and September to $5.56 a gallon.
Callejas introduced the measures in an effort to offset Honduras’ $600 million deficit and make payments on the country’s $3.5 billion foreign debt.
However, they resulted in raging inflation, calculated at 32 percent for the year by the government and as high as 100 percent by private economists.
The Morazan Liberation Front said Sunday it has formed ″detachments of Hondurans to struggle for better living conditions for Honduras’ poor.″
Police claim that the group detonated two high-powered bombs on Dec. 12 and 18 that injured one person and damaged three buildings in San Pedro Sula, 125 miles northwest of Tegucigalpa.
The group is named for former president Francisco Morazan, who led an armed movement to unite the five countries of Central America in the early 1800s.
The front, born during 14 years of military rule, initiated an unsuccessful boycott of 1980 legislative elections.
Members have been accused of wounding at least 15 U.S. soldiers in dynamite attacks between 1983 and 1989. They have also been charged with three armed attacks on U.S. military convoys traveling Honduran highways.