August 17, 2018 / 5:26 PM / in 4 months

Two arrested in Chile over bomb threats that caused flight chaos

Passengers wait for check-in for their flights at the departures area of Latam airlines inside the international airport in Santiago, Chile August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

(Reuters) - Chilean police arrested two men over bomb threats that grounded nine commercial airplanes in Chile, Peru and Argentina on Thursday.

A specialist organized crime unit arrested one, 29-year-old Chilean man in the northern city of Antofagasta overnight after using cellphone triangulation to locate him, police said.

The man was arrested early Friday morning at his home, and his cellphone and other items were seized as evidence, Santiago’s police chief, Jose Rivera Aedo, told a news conference.

The man, who has not been named, was due to appear before a court in Santiago on Friday afternoon on charges of making threats of explosives contrary to national security legislation.

A second, 33-year-old man, also Chilean and identified as Boris Chacon Flores, was detained at Santiago airport on Thursday afternoon after allegedly “joking” about a bomb in his bag to a friend as he went through security, a spokeswoman for the Santiago West prosecutor said. The man appeared in court on one charge of making a false bomb threat.

There was no apparent link between the two arrested men, the spokeswoman, María Angelica Venegas, said in an interview. Police chief Rivera declined to say whether authorities were looking for more suspects.

Hundreds of passengers and their luggage were grounded at airports around the region after threats were made toward planes operated by LATAM airlines, a major regional carrier, and Sky, a low-cost Chilean airline.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera wrote on Twitter that his government would push for punitive charges against the suspect who allegedly made the calls “to make an example of him.”

Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta and Aislinn Laing

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