MUTUM OPERATION – THE FIRST PUMP
It must have been eleven, and I still hadn’t talked to anyone in town about the bombs. The encounter with Alice had stirred my ideas, taken my focus, distracted me. I need to do something, I thought. It was at that moment when I decided to go out and start talking to someone, that I heard altered voices. I went to the door of the bar and saw some people agitated, running in the direction of Praça da Igreja Matriz. My curiosity took me there, where I came across a canvas-covered military truck, surrounded by armed soldiers who prevented access to the vehicle. When I asked what was happening, they informed me that they had found the first bomb and that it was inside that truck.
It would be taken to the headquarters, in the Stadium, where it would be kept waiting for the others, as soon as they were found. According to information leaked by the military, it would be allowed to be seen, photographed and filmed later, by the general command of the military operation. There, more information about everything that had happened up to that moment would also be provided that night.
For the rest of that afternoon, my time was all directed to what would happen at night, in the general command of the bomb search operation, when the explanations that we all wanted to have would be provided.
The city was turned inside out. There was unusual excitement in the streets. People came and saw in all directions. Little groups formed and dissolved just as quickly. Press vehicles were positioned to cover the best spaces with their cameras and microphones at Praça Benedito Valadares and in the vicinity of the Headquarters of the Military Command, at the Municipal Stadium. I had put aside the idea of talking to the residents. I thought it best to wait for the events that would come from the news that would be given to us officially.
That night we were then told that the bombs dropped on Mutum were incendiary. The one shown to us was a BINC 200. Its incendiary composition was Napalm B, stockable. According to what was reported, there were four bombs dropped on Mutum. One had already been located. There were still three to be found.
The BINC 200 is an incendiary pump designed for use by high performance aircraft. In the case of Mutum, a B-26 Bomber.
Built of steel, it has reinforced areas capable of withstanding the efforts made during the flight. Its tank is hermetically sealed, which makes it possible to use storable incendiary compositions.
In general, it is used against burning targets, such as fuel, ammunition and grain deposits; aircraft parking yards, etc. It can also be used against troops, thus being characterized as an anti-personnel weapon.
These incendiary devices had already been used by the FAB five years before, when the “Registro Operation” was carried out in Vale da Ribeira, in São Paulo, in 1970. It was the largest mobilization in the history of the II Army, when 2954 (two thousand nine hundred and fifty-four) men, composed of members of the Army Information Center, infantry regiments and paratroopers of the special forces, police of the São Paulo Military and Highway Police, DOPs, in addition to the Navy, with the mission of search and capture 9 (nine) members of the organization VPR (Popular Revolutionary Vanguard) commanded by former Army Captain Carlos Lamarca, who had installed two guerrilla training centers in that region.
The FAB actively participated in “Operation Registration” through the 1st Air Force, commanded by Brigadeiro Hipólito and employing 4 helicopters and 4 T – 26 airplanes, in addition to B-26 Bombardier aircraft.
During the “Operation Registration” in the Vale da Ribeira, FAB dropped Napalm incendiary bombs, type BINC 200, in the region.
With the intention of obtaining information about how the first BINC 200 was found, I went to the Hotel Pálace, which hosted the majority of the members of the press who had come to Mutum, to cover the case. There I learned then how it all happened.
The first bomb had been found by a besieger named Beniamino.
(To be continued next week)