ETA political leader appears to dismiss bombing

18th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

19 January 2005, BILBAO — The leader of the political wing of the Basque separatist organisation ETA appeared to dismiss the terrorist group's latest car bomb attack.

19 January 2005

BILBAO — The leader of the political wing of the Basque separatist organisation ETA appeared to dismiss the terrorist group's latest car bomb attack.

Analdo Otegi, head of the banned Batasuna party, said: "Today the armed conflict continues in force and as such you are going to have (attacks) like what happened yesterday."

His comments came after a car bomb attack by ETA in the Basque town of Getxo, in which one policewoman was slightly injured.

Twenty-four hours earlier, after the bomb attack, Otegi had said the peace process did no longer existed.

The bomb attack came just two days after ETA backed a call by the outlawed radical party Batasuna, of which the group is the military wing, to engage in a dialogue with the Spanish government on the Basque region's future.

The injured policewoman, who was taken to hospital, where sources said her injuries were not life-threatening, had been part of a security cordon which was taking up position around the immediate vicinity of the street where the blast occurred.

Only on Sunday, ETA said it was "wholly determined to be involved in the process outlined by Batasuna spokesman Analdo Otegi in November calling for "political dialogue" and "an end to weapons in Basque politics."

The group's statement significantly failed to mention readiness to call a ceasefire, which Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero insisted was a prerequisite for peace.

The blast came amid optimism that ETA was ready to end its four-decade armed conflict against the Spanish state which has left more than 800 people dead.

Several ministers noted that ETA had called a 1998 ceasefire just months ahead of regional elections, which are also scheduled for the middle of this year.

Some papers and the main conservative opposition Popular Party did not hesitate to dub Sunday's announcement an "opportunist electoral strategy."

Ironically, just hours before the blast Otegi had voiced confidence that progress towards resolving the conflict was in the offing if all parties could act "with a certain rigour and responsibility in the months ahead."

Well-informed Basque nationalist sources said the site of the attack suggested the bombing was part of an extortion campaign, noting that a blast went off in the same street in a well-heeled area in June 2000 following a similar warning.

On 25 June,  2000, Manuel Smith Street was the scene of a similar incident outside the residence of the Declaux family, one of the richest in the region.

In addition, ETA is suspected of having been behind the kidnapping in 1997 of Cosme Declaux Zubiria, a leading lawyer who spent 232 days in the hands of his captors.

His family paid a billion pesetas (worth some six million euros today) as a ransom and reportedly agreed to pay half as much again after he was freed.

Nationalist sources said ETA might be planning to obtain more cash after showing its steel with Tuesday's blast.

Rodolfo Ares, a spokesman for the Basque Socialist Party, the regional branch of the ruling party in Madrid, warned that "we must be very prudent, not drop our guard and continue to fight ETA with all instruments related to the defence of freedoms, as well as (fight) terrorism on all fronts."
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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