CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – President Hugo Chavez vowed Friday that Venezuela’s intelligence services would identify the assassins of a state attorney who intended to prosecute backers of Venezuela’s 2002 coup.

Danilo Anderson, known to many Venezuelans as the “super prosecutor,” was killed Thursday night by two explosions that ripped through his SUV in the capital.

The assassination shook this oil-rich South American nation, renewing the specter of further violence just as years of political upheaval appeared to be ending.

“The attack against Danilo Anderson is an attack against all of us,” Chavez said in a televised address to the nation, adding that it was also an attack on Venezuelans’ dreams of democracy.

The president’s spokesman, Andres Izarra, earlier accused expatriate “terrorists” of being behind the assassination. But Chavez said “we will not condemn anyone beforehand.”

As authorities called for calm, hundreds of mourners, some weeping and others angrily shouting “Justice!,” watched while a coffin bearing Anderson’s body was brought into the attorney general’s office building in downtown Caracas.

Izarra said the assassination was aimed at attacking the judicial branch and derailing Anderson’s investigations and prosecutions of those who supported the coup against Chavez, in which 19 people were killed and almost 300 wounded.

The U.S. government and the Organization of American States denounced the assassination.

“We offer our condolences to his family and call for a full investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators,” said Adam Ereli, a State Department spokesman, in Washington.

While the United States remains Venezuela’s main buyer of oil, relations between the Chavez and Bush administrations have been testy.

The killing of the 38-year-old prosecutor came just as a political crisis that gripped the country for the past 2½ years was easing.

Opponents of Chavez, a fiery leftist and former army paratroop commander, failed to oust him in the two-day coup in April 2002, in a two-month national strike later that year and in a national referendum last August.

The assassination underscored that the political situation remains unstable in the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter.

Interior and Justice Minister Jesse Chacon said C-4, a military-grade plastic explosive, was apparently used in the attack, detonated by remote control. The explosions were so powerful they shattered windows in nearby buildings. A pistol he carried amid death threats was found in the wreckage.

Chavez canceled attending an Ibero-American Summit in Costa Rica and paid his respects to Anderson and his sobbing relatives.

“They killed this man because he was a true fighter for true justice,” Chavez said. “We honor his memory.”

Anderson was involved in several cases against opponents of Chavez, who was elected on his promises to help Venezuela’s majority poor.

One case was against nearly 400 people who signed a declaration supporting interim President Pedro Carmona during the coup, which failed amid a popular uprising demanding Chavez’s return.

“The fascists and terrorists that acted against the prosecutor” want to derail Chavez’s social revolution, Chavez’s spokesman told a news conference. “Some of them train and constantly make pronouncements from Florida, United States.”

Brian Penn, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, said Venezuela should provide information to support its charges.

“If we receive it, we are prepared to investigate any serious information,” Penn told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Hours later, Deputy Information Minister William Castillo said Izarra was not directly linking exiles in Florida to the assassination.

AP-ES-11-19-04 2156EST



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