Police deactivate pamphlet bomb in Cuenca

PTI | ByAssociated Press, Quito, Ecuador
May 21, 2004 12:05 PM IST

Police deactivated a bomb in the city of Cuenca, hours before Miss Universe contestants were scheduled to arrive.

Police deactivated a pamphlet bomb in the Andean city of Cuenca Sunday, hours before contestants for the Miss Universe beauty pageant were scheduled to arrive for a parade. Police spokesman Washington Herrera told The Associated Press that the small bomb contained pamphlets criticizing the economic policies of President Lucio Gutierrez.

The local media speculated that the bomb was placed in Cuenca, 305 kilometers (190 miles) south of Quito, to coincide with the beauty pageant event. The bomb was discovered in a park about six blocks away from the parade route, police said.

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HT Image

The Miss Universe competition, co-owned by billionaire developer Donald Trump and US television company NBC, draws contestants from more than 80 nations and has been around for 53 years. The final is scheduled to be held on June 1 in Quito.

During the past two years, more than half a dozen small bombs have been detonated in Quito and in Guayaquil, 275 kilometers (170 miles) to the southwest, by groups using several similar-sounding leftist revolutionary names to identify themselves. No one has been killed in the pamphlet bombings, although two lunchtime explosions in August 2002 outside a McDonald's restaurant shattered windows and injured three people.

Police said the pamphlets in the bomb that was defused Sunday carried the name of the so-called Group of People's Combatants, or GCP by its initials in Spanish. No arrests had been made. The GCP has claimed responsibility for several of the previous pamphlet bombings.

Unlike in neighboring Colombia, there are no major guerrilla organizations in Ecuador, although obscure groups sporadically paint walls with subversive slogans and set off small pamphlet bombs.

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