Suspicious Package in Asunción

Rafael Filizzola, Minister of the Interior, gives a press conference about today's bomb scare
(all photos by me)

school kids gleefully leave early as class is canceled due to bomb scare

sand poured from a truck to minimize any potential explosion, the blue building is Saba

some military dude answers questions before the device is removed

Last week, a homemade ("casera") bomb was found in the Palacio de Justicia--in a woman's bathroom--and after it was removed from the building, it exploded, harming no one. Apparently, the small explosive was designed to give a good scare and nothing more. The result was that much better security has been set up in the building--I actually passed through metal detectors for the first time yesterday. Since that time, people have been trying to figure out who put it there and why, with the chief explanation being: to scare people and perhaps destabilize the government.

This morning, a suspicious package was found in Saba, a clothing/fabric store near Plaza Uruguaya in the centro of Asunción. Police were called to the scene and dozens of reporters followed suit and soon there were rumors of bomb threats in other government buildings (later found to be baseless). It's been a bit difficult to get a sense of how serious the threats are, so I decided to head to Saba to see how things developed. The most exciting thing that happened was that a couple of military police took down my name and passport number after asking me who I was and as this happened, a couple of photographers took my picture and then later asked me why I had been questioned. "Because they didn't know me," I responded.

Military police line up across Plaza Uruguaya

Though it's not showing up yet in online articles, it seems that the package was merely a collection of eight batteries and perhaps not even an explosive device at all. At best, it was a badly constructed improvised explosive device (IED) that wouldn't have caused any real damage (this, according to the explosives expert at the press conference after the device was removed). But, again, the concern voiced by Minister of the Interior Rafael Filizzola was about psychological effects coming from an organized attempt to raise fear in the public and destabilize the government.

One, likely unintended, consequence of today's events will probably be that Plaza Uruguaya, a site of protest by indigenous groups who occupy the public space in the city's colonial center to voice their grievances about loss of land rights, will be cleared and further occupations prohibited.

Old train station, site of press conference

Filizzola arrives

Plaza Uruguaya

"Without us, don't talk about cultures"

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One Response to Suspicious Package in Asunción

Jane Rubio said...

Your pictures are so good. Did you take these?


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