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SANTIAGO (Reuters) - The Chilean government said on Tuesday it will invoke anti-terrorist laws in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the explosion of a homemade device on a Santiago subway train late Sunday night.

The incendiary device, which had been placed inside a backpack, caused minor damage and no injuries. No one has claimed responsibility.

Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said on Tuesday that the government has decided the attack was serious and subject to the anti-terrorism laws. "We think the intention was to hurt innocent people," he said.

The laws, which date from the 1973-90 rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet, give prosecutors more powers and allow for harsher sentencing. The government has been criticized for using them in a long-running and often violent struggle with indigenous Mapuche activists over land rights in southern Chile.

A number of explosive devices have been planted close to banks and police stations in Chile in recent years, with one member of an anarchist group killed and another injured in the process of setting off the devices. Two Chileans linked to an extremist anarchist group were charged last year with carrying out a similar attack on a church in Spain.

(Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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