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US Navy Exercises Begin on Vieques

June 25, 2000

VIEQUES, Puerto Rico (AP) _ The thud of bombs returned to Vieques Island on Sunday as the U.S. Navy began training even as protesters vowed to invade the range to stop the largest exercise since a fatal accident prompted a yearlong occupation of its range.

At about 2 p.m., ships began shooting inert shells at the range, Navy spokesman Lt. Jeff Gordon said. The exercises are scheduled to continue Monday and Tuesday although they could continue through July 2 if necessary, he said.

Gordon said that notices were posted Saturday night and broadcast to mariners by the U.S. Coast Guard Sunday morning. The advisories were seven pages long and previous reports that bombing was to begin Monday could have been due to a misinterpretation of the lengthy notice, he said.

``The navy did notify the public in Vieques in an appropriate manner today,″ Gordon said.

Sandra Reyes, a 32-year-old painter who lives in sight of the range, said her children came running into the house screaming after the start of the exercises.

``My house is shaking, the doors shake, things on the table shake, my ear drums hurt,″ Reyes said. ``We all feel very frustrated, impotent, violated and harassed.″

She said three or four shells were hitting the range about every 15 minutes.

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