August 5, 1997 in Nation/World

Explosion Rocks Cuban Tourist Hotel

Compiled From Wire Services

For at least the third time in less than a month, an explosion has rocked the lobby of a tourist hotel in Havana, scattering furniture - along with speculation about who is planting the devices.

The Hotel Melia Cohiba, towering over the famous Malecon seaside wall, became the latest target Monday morning when a small explosion caused minor damage and no known injuries.

In addition to Monday’s incident, other confirmed blasts took place on July 12 at two other hotels, the Nacional and the Capri.

Although there is disagreement on who is responsible for the blasts, the intended target, by all accounts, is the tourism industry, the most profitable business for Cuba these days. Outsiders could be trying to deter tourists from visiting the island. Insiders could be hoping to topple the government by creating an aura of instability.

Within two hours of the 7:30 a.m. blast, however, business was back to normal.

But no evidence has been offered to the United States, officials said.

“The U.S. government clearly does not condone this kind of activity in Cuba or anywhere else,” said a State Department official in Washington.

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