Special to the JTA Israel Embassy in Quito Hit by Terrorist Bomb

The Israeli Embassy here was rocked by a powerful explosion this morning that left two people dead and a third seriously wounded. Israeli Ambassador Eliecer Armon, who was at work in his office but escaped unharmed when the dynamite charge went off, denounced the bombing as a “criminal act which has caused innocent victims.”

The Embassy was cordoned off by the national police immediately after the 10:40 a.m. explosion, while bomb experts from SIC, the Ecuadorian security agency, and Interpol searched the building for more explosives.

According to eyewitness reports, a young man entered the four-story building, in which the Israeli Embassy occupies the top floor, carrying a suitcase. On the third floor, he opened the suitcase and to the astonishment of the people who were in the corridor at the time, he lit several sticks at dynamite and started to climb the staircase towards the Embassy offices.

Raising the alarm, they scared the terrorist who abandoned the suitcase and ran downstairs and into the street. In the ensuing panic, Ambassador Armon and the rest of the Israeli diplomatic staff, along with the employes of several commercial offices, escaped from the building.

TWO POLICEMEN DEAD, ONE PASSERBY WOUNDED

Two Ecuadorian national civil policemen, Manuel Gilberto Jimenez Sota and Vicente Ramon Jimenez Torres, who were posted in guard stations at the buildings entrance, ran back into the building in search of the dynamite when the first workers reached the street yelling, “Bomb, Bomb.”

The policemen retrieved the smoking suitcase on the third floor and descended to the lobby in an attempt to throw it out into the street. The high power charge, smelling strongly of sulfur, exploded when they were 15 feet from the door. The impact killed Jimenez Soto instantly and seriously wounded his comrade, Jimenez Torres, and an unidentified woman passerby in the street. The second policeman, Jimenez Torres died later in the day at the Military Hospital while having his legs amputated in an attempt to save his life.

After the bombing, Armon stated to the press that he did not want to speculate as to who was responsible for placing the bomb in the building but indicated it shouldn’t be difficult to figure out. The Ecuadorian government dispatched Ambassador Cesar Valdiviese to the scene of the bombing to express its rejection of terrorism and to emphasize that relations between the two countries will continue to be based on mutual respect, friendship and mutual cooperation.

Extra security measures have been taken to ensure the continuing welfare of the Israeli diplomatic staff.

(By Jaime Reibel)

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