Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Although Washington is an international city, few foreign disputes have been settled on its streets. An exception was the 1976 bombing assassination of Orlando Letelier, an exiled Chilean pro-democracy leader who was killed along with an American aide, Ronni Moffitt. Manuel Contreras, the former chief of the Chilean secret police who was convicted of involvement in the plot by a Chilean court in 1993, testified last year that he acted under orders of former Chilean strongman Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet is now under house arrest in London fighting extradition to Spain for crimes against humanity. An excerpt from The Post of Sept. 22, 1976:
Orlando Letelier, who was a high official in the Marxist regime of the late Chilean President Salvador Allende, was killed here yesterday when a bomb exploded beneath his car as he drove around Sheridan Circle on Massachusetts Avenue's Embassy Row.
Letelier, 44, was driving two colleagues to work at the Institute for Policy Studies when the fiery bomb blast wrecked his car and dismembered his body at 9:35 a.m. He died of blood loss resulting from the severing of both legs in the explosion.
In Allende's days of power, Letelier served as Chile's ambassador to the United States and, later, as Allende's foreign minister and minister of defense. He also has been an outspoken critic of the junta that overthrew Allende. At the Institute for Policy Studies, he ran a foreign affairs program.
Ronni Karpen Moffitt, 25, a staff member at the institute, who was riding in the front seat of Letelier's car, also died after being helped from the car by her husband, Michael, a research associate at the institute who was riding in the back seat of Letelier's car. Ronni Moffitt's death was caused by inhaling massive amounts of blood when her larynx and an artery were severed, according to the D.C. medical examiner's office.
Michael Moffitt also tried unsuccessfully to pull Letelier from the driver's seat, according to witnesses. Moffitt was treated for shock at George Washington University Medical Center and released. ...
Last night, sources close to the investigation said that the explosion appeared to have been caused by an expertly designed, plastic bomb, shaped to concentrate the main force of its blast upward into the driver's seat.
The bomb was apparently attached by wires or magnets to the car's undercarriage, the sources said. It blew a circular hole, 2 to 2 feet in diameter, in the area of the driver's seat. They added that the blast caused no damage to the street below and it did not seriously injure Moffitt, who was seated in the rear of the car.
These sources also said that one possibility under investigation is that the bomb was set off by a remote-controlled device through radio transmission.
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