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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
FBI probes Puerto Rico shoot-out
By Simon Watts
BBC News, Miami

Protester carrying a poster of Filiberto Ojeda Rios at a demonstration in San Juan on Saturday
Ojeda Rios' supporters took to the streets after news of his death
FBI chief Robert Mueller has launched an investigation into the death of a fugitive Puerto Rican rebel leader in a shoot-out with US federal agents.

Filiberto Ojeda Rios was wanted for a bank robbery in the mainland US in 1983, and died in a gun battle at a farmhouse in Puerto Rico on Friday.

The incident has caused anger on the Caribbean island, which is an American commonwealth territory.

Hundreds of people attended Monday's funeral procession for Ojeda Rios.

Unanswered questions

The FBI has come under heavy criticism in Puerto Rico for the way its agents handled the operation to capture Ojeda Rios.

Many people there have the impression that Washington doesn't apply the same standards on the island as on the mainland.

In response to demands from Puerto Rico's politicians, the FBI has now promised an independent inquiry into what happened during this shoot-out.

It will focus on two questions: did Mr Ojeda Rios fire first or was it the FBI agents?

And why did the FBI wait 24 hours before entering the property.

Ojeda Rios was lying on the floor injured, and his relatives say the delay was responsible for his death.

Campaign for independence

The FBI were trying to arrest Ojeda Rios over the most notorious action in the campaign for independence by his small rebel group, the Cane Cutters.

It was an armed robbery in the US state of Connecticut in 1983, which the authorities consider an act of terrorism because it helped fund the group's activities.

Although many people attended the funeral procession on Monday, the Cane Cutters never attracted much public support.

And although they are annoyed by this incident, most Puerto Ricans think they are better off remaining part of the US.

Puerto Rico rebel dies in hideout
24 Sep 05 |  Americas
Regions and territories: Puerto Rico
14 Jul 05 |  Country profiles

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