CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Venezuelan police detained a university student outside the U.S. Embassy on Monday, saying he had planted two pipe bombs nearby.

Police closed the street to traffic and set off the two low-intensity explosives, which they said were essentially homemade fireworks. Dozens of children were evacuated from an adjacent school. Nobody was injured.

Embassy spokesman Brian Penn said a motorcycle taxi driver “started screaming” to alert security guards after the youth made a remark to the driver. Penn said the embassy would defer to Venezuelan police to comment on specifics of the case.

Local police chief Wilfredo Borraz told reporters that one of the devices was found outside the school and the other in a planter about 50 yards from the embassy entrance.

He said both were wrapped in black plastic bags and contained “small fliers with publicity alluding to Hezbollah” – the Lebanese guerrilla group that recently fought a monthlong war with Israel. He said police glimpsed electrical wires protruding from one of the plastic pipes before setting it off.

“The idea was apparently to create alarm and publicize a message,” Borraz told reporters, saying the explosives were made to scatter the pamphlets.

Police did not release the age or name of the student.

The youth told police “the devices were programmed to explode in 15 minutes, and that he had gone on the Internet, looking for pages that talk about explosives” to help prepare the devices. A motive remained unclear.

Borraz said the youth’s knapsack held materials for making the small explosives, along with a card identifying him as a student of the state-run Bolivarian University – a school offering free education that was founded by President Hugo Chavez.

Neighbors in the wealthy community of Valle Arriba, where the embassy is located, alerted police and provided a description that helped catch the suspect, Borraz said.

Inside the student’s knapsack, police found six containers of black powder, pliers, and electrical wires, Borraz said.


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