Bomb kills eight near US embassy in Peru

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The Independent US

A car bomb explosion outside the US Embassy in Lima killed at least eight people and injured more than 30. The blast comes three days before a visit to the Peruvian capital by President George Bush.

At least four bodies could be seen in the rubble, including a boy wearing roller skates, radio reports said.

President Bush is set to arrive in Lima on Saturday for a meeting with Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo and leaders from Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador.

The blast occurred at about 10.45 last night in front of a shopping centre, in an area with popular late-night restaurants and cinemas.

Interior Minister Fernando Rospigliosi told reporters that the blast had killed two policemen and four other people. An unidentified fire department commander said that the explosion had injured about 30 people.

A car parked on the street exploded and blew out the windows of a seven-floor hotel and bank across the street from the embassy, witnesses said. The embassy, a fortress-like structure with narrow windows, suffered no apparent damage, according to news reports. It sits behind a 20-foot high wall and is set far back from the street.

In a separate blast yesterday, a small bomb exploded just before dawn outside an office of Peru's Spanish-owned telephone company, police said. The explosion damaged the first floor of a Telefonica payment office in northern Lima but caused no injuries, the company said in a statement.

Police said an unidentified man left the explosive in a backpack in front of the building and then fled in a car.

On Tuesday night, a package containing a grenade was tossed from a moving car onto a street in north-eastern Lima. The grenade exploded but there were no injuries, police said.

Neither of Peru's largely defeated guerrilla movements ? the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement ? have taken responsibility for the incidents.