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Former President Escapes Assassination Attempt

February 24, 1991

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ A retired border guard tried to shoot former President Raul Alfonsin while he was speaking at a political rally, but Alfonsin supporters subdued the assailant when the gun jammed.

Alfonsin, who returned Argentina to civilian rule after a seven-year military dictatorship, called the assassination attempt Saturday night ″an isolated incident.″

″We shouldn’t forget that there are authoritarian sectors in Argentina,″ Alfonsin said Sunday. ″In Argentina and in South America in general, there has always been a proclivity for direct action and toward violence.″

The attempted assassination took place as Alfonsin spoke at a rally for his party, the main opposition Radical Civic Union, in the city of San Nicolas, 160 miles north of Buenos Aires.

Party members quickly subdued the gunman and turned him over to police.

Carlos Castro, Alfonsin’s chief spokesman, identified the attacker as Ismael Abdala, who was a retired member of the Gendarmerie, Argentina’s militarized border guard.

Castro said two accomplices escaped.

Alfonsin, who had been giving a speech when the attack occurred, then completed his talk.

Abdada was detained by police from Buenos Aires province.

Criminal Judge Alberto Moreno ordered Abdala prosecuted for attempted homicide.

Alfonsin, who turned over power to Carlos Menem’s Peronists 19 months ago, has been opposed by the extreme right for his government’s prosecution of former military leaders for human rights abuses during the 1976-83 dicatatorship.