SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador -- Attorney General Roberto Garcia Alvarado was assassinated Wednesday by assailants who hurled a bomb at his armored van in an attack blamed on leftist rebels.
Judicial sources said the explosion severely wounded one bodyguard and deafened another.
Both men were traveling with Garcia Alvarado, who was on his way to work through downtown San Salvador when the attackers threw a bomb on the roof of his bullet-proof van, the sources said.
Garcia Alvarado, who was killed immediately in the explosion, was appointed last year with the backing of congressmen belonging to the conservative National Republican Alliance, known by its Spanish acronym ARENA.
President-elect and ARENA member Alfredo Cristiani condemned the assassination and blamed the leftist Farabundo Marti Liberation Front for the attack.
'This latest assassination is reprehensible, but we must continue the fight to give values to the laws of this land,' said Cristiani, who was at a press conference in the capital at the time of the attack.
'We will not respond with vengeful action, as the FMLN hopes we would,' Cristiani said. 'They are trying to provoke a vengeful reaction that would isolate our new governent internationally.'
ARENA members repeatedly have been accused by human rights groups of heading death squads.
U.S. Ambassador William Walker visited the bombing site, located in the south of the city, and also blamed the leftist guerrillas for the attack.
'This is an attempt by the FMLN to provoke a nasty violent reaction from the government, elected government, or the armed forces to their acts of barbarism,' Walker said at a press conference in the capital.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday's attack.
The assassination came 43 days before Cristiani assumes his position as leader of the war-torn nation.
The judicial sources said high-ranking ARENA party members rushed to the scene of the explosion.
President Jose Napoleon Duarte's centrist Christian Democrats were overwhemingly defeated by ARENA in last month's presidential elections. Duarte, who is ill with cancer and traveled to Washington for treatment Wednesday, will step down June 1.
El Salvador has been besieged by a nine-year civil war between the government, right-wing groups and leftist guerrillas that has demolished the Central Americannation's economy and left at least 70,000 dead, mostly civilians.
Recently, FMLN rebels intensified their campaign, specifically targeting the plantations and businesses of wealthy ARENA members.
On Friday, three bombs destroyed the home of Vice President-elect Francisco Merino. The ARENA politician was not at home and was unharmed by the attack.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler condemned the assassination and suggested it followed the pattern set by other recent attacks by the FMLN.
'This brutal, despicable killing follows by five days the bombing attack on the home of Vice President-elect Francisco Merino,' Tutwiler said.
Merino said the April 14 attack was carried out by an urban guerrilla organization called the Peoples Liberation Front, which is linked to the FMLN.
'These bombing attacks represent a campaign of terror against the peoples and democratic institutions of El Salvador,' Tutwiler said. 'We condemn this terror, as should all civilized peoples and nations. This campaign is clearly designed to prove a violent reaction. We strongly urge all those in El Salvador to put aside violence as a means to further political goals.'