Bomb rocks Chile metro, seven injured

Chilean police personnel from a bomb disposal unit arrive at the Escuela Militar subway station in Santiago on Sept 8, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Chilean police personnel from a bomb disposal unit arrive at the Escuela Militar subway station in Santiago on Sept 8, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 

SANTIAGO (AFP) - A bomb rocked a Santiago metro station on Monday, injuring seven people in a blast Chile's government called a "terrorist act".

The explosive device that ripped through the food court at Escuela Militar (Military School) station was made with a fire extinguisher and a clock that were planted in a trash can, officials said.

"This is an act that has the hallmarks of a terrorist act. There is not doubt about that," said government spokesman Alvaro Elizalde, adding that the authorities would launch an "energetic response".

Nobody took immediate responsibility for the blast, which follows a string of unsolved small bombings in Chile that took place in uncrowded places.

President Michelle Bachelet called an emergency council meeting.

"At the moment, seven people have been taken to (medical) centres," police spokesman Mario Rozas told reporters.

The injured included four women and three men, including one from Argentina who had a stomach wound, the medical emergency service said. One woman lost fingers in one hand, not limbs as initially reported, officials said.

"My legs buckled because it made a terrible noise," a witness told a local news channel.

Authorities suspect the bomb was planted by two young people who fled in a car, said Deputy Interior Minister Mahmud Aleuy.

"The government will not rest until these people are brought to justice. These people tried to kill innocent Chileans," said Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo.

More than 100 makeshift bombs have targeted banks, gyms, embassies and restaurants in Chile in the past five years, causing relatively light damage and injuries. Past attacks have been claimed by groups using names of old anarchist groups. Nobody has been convicted in connection with the attacks.

After a lull, similar bombings have reemerged in recent months. The government stepped up security after an explosive device blew up in a subway train on July 14 and a special prosecutor was named to investigate the attacks.

Francisco Bravo, the special prosecutor, said Monday's bomb was similar to the one used in the July attack. The government said it would prosecute the latest attack under the country's anti-terror law, which allows courts to impose heavier sentences than in other crimes.

The president of the opposition National Renovation party, Cristian Monckeberg, said the latest attack "could have been avoided," adding that "a pattern is repeating itself" in these bombings.