LIMA, Peru — A powerful car bomb, blamed on leftist rebels, tore apart a fashionable residential neighborhood, killing at least 18 people, injuring 140 and ripping the facades off 10-story buildings.
The blast late Thursday was the most gruesome episode in the current wave of rebel violence in the Lima area.
No one claimed responsibility, but police suspected the Maoist rebel group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path).
In the previous 24 hours, two other car bombs exploded at police stations, and a fourth car bomb went off near a bank. There were no immediate reports of casualties from those blasts.
Police said there were about half a dozen other incidents overnight, most of them involving dynamite attacks on banks, gasoline stations and power pylons. Police originally believed there were more attacks because of the widespread damage caused by the first car bomb.
Crews early Friday searched for bodies among the rubble in the fashionable Miraflores neighborhood. The corpses were wrapped in bloodstained cloth and piled together. Severed hands and feet were lying in the street.
Bomb squad experts said the force of the blast was equivalent to about 1,800 pounds of dynamite.
It brought a rain of shattered glass and twisted metal onto a block-long section of the street. Hotels, banks and a busy 24-hour supermarket were heavily damaged, and windows were shattered up to 12 blocks away.
Greta Frick, who lives two blocks from the area, stood in the street dressed in a white terry-cloth robe and slippers. She said she had just come home from shopping on the street where the explosion occurred.
"I turned on the TV and 'Boom!' It threw me out of my bed," she said.
Two other car bombs exploded a short time later--at police stations in the port district of Callao and in Villa El Salvador. Another omb was deactivated outside the Villa Maria del Triunfo police station, which came under armed attack.
A bank in the La Victoria district originally believed to have been car bombed was dynamited from a speeding car. Rebels with explosives and firearms also attacked police stations in two other districts south of the capital.
"Our enemy is terrorism, and it is attacking the population," said Alberto Andrade, mayor of Miraflores. "It is in these moments when we should understand that it is we who have to fight terrorism."
The bombings were the first large-scale attacks in the capital since early June, when the Sendero Luminoso detonated another huge car bomb in the San Isidro banking district and used another to destroy a television station.
More than 25,000 people have been killed in political violence since the Sendero Luminoso took up arms in 1980.
The attack came on the 100th day after President Alberto Fujimori imposed a state of emergency with the blessing of the military.