33 Soviet Sailors Injured in Peru Bus Bombing
Suspected leftist guerrillas Wednesday bombed a bus carrying sailors from a Soviet fishing fleet on shore leave, injuring 33 of them, the Interior Ministry said.
The bomb exploded as 49 sailors were boarding the bus after leaving a handicrafts store in the port of Callao, five miles west of Lima, according to police and witnesses. Four were still hospitalized 12 hours after the blast, the Interior Ministry said.
No group claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the Interior Ministry statement said that the attack had the characteristics of an operation by the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a Maoist guerrilla group that has targeted Soviet diplomats and citizens in the past.
Gen. Oswaldo Diaz Salvador, the police chief of Lima, said two young men were seen placing an object under the bus and then racing off as the bomb exploded. He said police are seeking four people; there were reports that two accomplices sped off in a car after the bombing.
Two smaller buses, each carrying about 35 Soviet sailors, were damaged by the mid-morning explosion, police said.
However, all of the injured were on the larger bus.
The blast also damaged the three-story building where the fishermen had been shopping at a store that caters exclusively to Soviets.
Sendero Luminoso, which follows the ideology of Mao Tse-tung, views the Soviet government as a traitor to Marxist theory. It also regards the Soviets as enemies because they have long been a major supplier of arms to Peru.
Peru recently acquired Soviet-made helicopters, and officials said some of them will be used to battle the guerrillas.
An agreement between Peru and the Soviet Union allows 20 Soviet trawlers to fish in Peruvian waters in exchange for a percentage of the catch. The fleet uses the port of Callao as a resupply point.
When their vessels are in port, the fishermen often take shopping trips, and a number of stores have opened that cater exclusively to Russian-speaking clients.
On June 3, Sendero Luminoso guerrillas blew up a bus carrying palace guards to a ceremony in downtown Lima, killing six people.
In 1986, a Sendero Luminoso guerrilla was killed after breaking into the grounds of the Soviet Embassy when the bomb he was carrying exploded. Also in 1986, several Soviet fishermen were injured when a bomb went off in a store in Callao.
The group has been fighting to topple Peru’s elected government since 1980.