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Bombing exercises resume on Vieques

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, center, was among dozens of protesters taken into custody for trying to interfere with the bombing exercises Sunday morning  

VIEQUES, Puerto Rico (CNN) -- U.S. Navy bombing exercises resumed on the island of Vieques on Tuesday, the same day that a U.S. congressman was released from federal prison for trespassing at the Puerto Rican bombing range.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, was among dozens of protesters who have been taken into custody by military police and U.S. marshals for trying to interfere with the bombing exercises that began last week. Gutierrez posted bond Tuesday morning.

CNN's John Zarrella reports on the continuing protests in Vieques

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CNN's Wolf Blitzer reports on the Vieques bombing controversy

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Vieques Island map

Why Vieques?

The bombing resumed after foggy weather cleared.

"Ship-to-shore shelling from destroyer USS McPhaul began around 10 a.m., while F-14 Tomcats, F/A-18 Hornets and EA-6B Prowlers off the carrier USS Enterprise began air-to-ground bombing runs at 12:30 p.m.," said Navy spokesman Lt. Jeff Gordon. "All with inert, non-explosive ordnance."

Fellow Navy spokesman Lt. Corey Barker said, "If the training goes well, (the bombing exercises) will conclude this evening."

The number of people detained and arrested for trespassing onto the bombing range continued to grow, now totaling 166.

Barker said 23 people were detained by military personnel and turned over to U.S. marshals for arrest during a 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning.

Most notable in Monday's group was Puerto Rican Independence Party President Ruben Barrios. "It's his third arrest," said Barker.

Over the weekend, in additional to Gutierrez, environmental lawyer Robert Kennedy Jr., son of the late senator, and actor Edward James Olmos were also detained.

Demonstrators have said the island's 9,000 residents are at higher risk for cancer and are exposed to dangerous levels of noise. They have sought to end the bombing permanently. The practice area is about nine miles from residential areas.

The U.S. Navy rejects charges that the exercises present a danger to the island's residents.

Controversy over the exercises has grown since October 1999, when an errant bomb killed a civilian security guard.

Barker said Navy personnel are on constant lookout for civilians on the bombing range.

Eight arrested outside controversial bombing range in Puerto Rico
April 29, 2001
Second day of protest greets Vieques exercises
April 28, 2001
Amid protests, Vieques bombing exercises resume
April 27, 2001
Vieques protesters mobilizing in Puerto Rico
April 26, 2001
Puerto Rico asks judge to stop bombing exercises
April 25, 2001
Eleven arrested following Vieques protest at Statue of Liberty
November 5, 2000

Vieques Island, Puerto Rico
  • History of Vieques Island
Vieques Libre
Government of Puerto Rico - Office of the Governor
U.S. Navy
  • Activities on the Island of Vieques
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • Judge Gladys Kessler
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
U.S. Department of Justice

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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