ETA blows up van as police hunt bombers

27th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

ETA blows up van as police hunt bombers

27 August 2007

MADRID - A van that exploded in northeastern Spain was detonated by members of the Basque separatist group ETA when they realized police were on their trail, Spain's Interior Ministry said Monday.

ETA had planned to use the van in an attack but were thwarted when police in the town of Les Coves de Vinroma became suspicious, said an Interior Ministry spokesman, under customary condition of anonymity.

He said the van had been stolen by alleged ETA members who, feeling cornered by police, blew the van up Sunday in an olive grove on the outskirts of town. No one was hurt.

"The car was going to be used very soon," the spokesman said. "It had a large quantity of explosives."

The target of the planned bombing was unknown, he said.

The owners of the van, Spanish nationals who were on vacation in the area, had been kidnapped Friday and were released on Monday in France.

On Friday, a van packed with an estimated 80-100 kilograms (175-220 pounds) of explosives blew up in Spain's northern Basque region outside a a police station, destroying cars, shattering windows and slightly injuring two policemen. Authorities said it was ETA's first serious attack since it called off a cease-fire in June.

Also Monday, Spanish anti-terrorism experts were to visit Portugal to investigate the latest bombing and share information with Portuguese counterparts. They want to determine whether ETA has set up bases in southern Portugal.

ETA, whose name is a Basque-language acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom, has been waging a campaign for an independent Basque state for nearly 40 years.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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