Government victim of two new bomb attacks

Bomb attacks at an Air Force Base and Telecommunications Commission headquarters puts Venezuelan government in high alert.

A strong explosion took place this Sunday at approximately 10 P.M. at the Francisco de Miranda Military Air Base, located in the neighborhood of La Carlota on the affluent east side of Caracas.

Two jet fuel trucks exploded and other vehicles were damaged. Local and Air Base fire crews controlled the fire within minutes of the explosion.

No injuries or deaths were reported, and none of the aircrafts were affected. According to military personnel at the base, the gas trucks were not full of gas, otherwise the explosion could have cause much more damage.

Police and military authorities closed all access to adjacent streets to investigate the incident. According to the state’s TV station Venezolana de Televisión and Radio Nacional de Venezuela, preliminary reports indicate that the explosion was caused by a grenade or another type of explosive carefully thrown at the gas trucks from one of the streets that border the base.

The Francisco de Miranda air base is home to an Air Force Command Post and transportation facilities, an Army Regiment, and it is used by the country’s President as a landing field.

Grenade thrown at Telecommunications Commission HQ

The attack at the air base comes only a day after a grenade was thrown against the headquarters of Venezuela’s Telecommunications Commission Conatel. On Friday, the commission confiscated some microwave equipment used by TV station Globovision to make transmissions through the 7 and 11 GHz bands without requesting permission to do so.

Security cameras caught the blast that destroyed Conatel headquarter’s main door.
Image Credit: Radio Nacional de Venezuela

The enforcement of the law by Conatel caused outrage among opponents of the government who see the move as a “threat to freedom of expression”, even though Globovision can continue broadcasting and it was invited by Conatel to request proper authorization to use the microwave frequencies it was using illegally.

Communications and Information Minister Jesse Chacon linked the Conatel explosion to Globovision’s false claim that it was being shut down by the government. Opponents of the government staged protests believing that the station was about to go off the air. Conatel’s technicians were attacked by demonstrators as they left the Globovision building.

During his weekly TV show, President Chavez complained of the commercial media’s lack of coverage of the attack against Conatel. “Commercial media doesn’t say anything when the government is the victim of an attack, or when the community TV station Catia TVe was totally shut down by the opposition Mayor of Caracas.”

Last month a strong explosion took place in the parking lot of the Regiment of the Honor Guard, located in front of the Presidential Palace of Miraflores, in downtown Caracas. Some opposition activists are the main suspects in the investigation being carried out by the authorities.

The attacks at the Air Force base and the Telecommunications Commission headquarters may signal a possible radicalization of actions by the opposition to destabilize Chavez’s government as part of their efforts to oust him.