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Explosions hit 3 hotels in Havana, killing 1

September 4, 1997
Web posted at: 6:33 p.m. EDT (2233 GMT)

HAVANA (CNN) -- Explosions believed to have been small bombs shook three seaside hotels in the Cuban capital Thursday, killing at least one man.

The explosions occurred within short intervals of each other at the Copacabana, Chateau and Triton hotels in the Playa district.

The first and worst of the explosions took place at the Copacabana at about 11:30 a.m. and killed Fabio Di Celmo, a 32-year-old Genoa, Italy, native and resident of Montreal, according to the Italian Foreign Ministry in Rome. Di Celmo was visiting Cuba with his father and staying in the hotel.

The other blasts, each of them smaller than the one at the Copacabana, reportedly occurred within the next hour, and there were no immediate reports of any injuries.

The explosions appear to be part of a spate of attacks against Cuba's tourist industry. At least three other Havana hotels were hit in July and August by small blasts which Cuban authorities say were caused by explosive devices.

The last confirmed bombing in the Cuban capital occurred at the luxury Hotel Melia Cohiba early last month. Small explosives also went off in July in the Nacional and Capri hotels, injuring three people.

Yet another explosion occurred in early August at a Cuban tourism office in Nassau in the Bahamas.

Cuba has blamed anti-Castro group for bombings

Map of Cuba

No group or individuals has claimed responsibility for the bombings, but the government has blamed "anti-Cuban terrorist groups" in the United States, an apparent reference to right-wing Cuban exile groups opposed to communist rule in Cuba.

"These terrorist acts are encouraged, organized and supplied -- both in terms of material and personnel -- from within the United States' territory," the Interior Ministry said in a statement in August.

The U.S. administration has said it has no information linking U.S. citizens to the blasts.

The militant Cuban exile group Alpha 66 in Miami has said it was not responsible for the blasts, but that it was in contact with "clandestine cells" inside Cuba that were. Alpha 66 promotes the use of violence to overthrow the communist government of Fidel Castro.

Cuban officials have said they believe the attacks are an attempt by U.S.-based enemies of Castro's government to harm the tourism industry, which is crucial to Cuba's troubled economy.

The officials say they will release evidence to back up their claims when the timing is right.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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