Is ETA back?

23rd August 2004, Comments 0 comments

ETA struck again with two bombs at tourist targets raising the spectre the terrorist group is back in business. But some predict this is actually its last gasp. Graham Keeley reports.

ETA has waged a violent campaign over more than 30 years

A bomb exploded Saturday in a park in Santiago de Compostela, a popular destination with walkers on the 'Pilgrims Path' across northern Spain which culminates in the city.

There was minor damage but no casualties.

Police had been able to evacuate the area before the small device went off around after an anonymous call to a Basque newspaper, the method favoured by ETA.

The call warned of two explosions, the second of which was in La Coruna, the main city in Galicia.

Bomb disposal experts located the second device near the archeological museum in La Coruna and made it safe.

The latest bombings bring to nine the number of devices aimed at tourist targets during August by the Basque terrorist group ETA.

Two small bombs exploded at seaside resorts in north-western towns in Galicia on the weekend of 21-22 August.

Three people, two Spaniards and a Portuguese, received minor injuries in the blasts in Sanxenxo.

The other bomb was detonated in a controlled explosion in the nearby marina of Baiona, which police had evacuated.

*quote1*A total of five people have been hurt, but no-one has been killed.

The first attacks took place on 7 August in seaside towns in the provinces of Cantabria and Asturias which caused some damage but no injuries.

Five days later bombs exploded in two other towns in the same provinces,
causing one minor injury.

On 15 August a small bomb went off in Asturias but nobody was hurt.

But most of those familiar with the workings of ETA were not overly alarmed by the latest round of bombings.

The secretary of the Basque Socialist Party Patxi Lopez said the point of
the latest round of attacks was "only to show that (ETA) continues to exist".

And the right-wing El Mundo newspaper dismissed the attacks as "purely symbolic".

Attacks last year sent a shiver through the spine of the Spanish authorities

But the paper went on to add that despite the limited scale of the attacks and the weakened state of ETA after a series of arrests of many of its operatives, they "show
that ETA has no intention of laying down its weapons or conceding to a truce
as has been speculated on for months".
 
ETA, which has waged a violent campaign over more than 30 years for an independent homeland in northern Spain and southern France, has been relatively inactive following a wave of arrests in both countries in recent years.

The banning of its political wing, Batasuna, last year also weakened the profile of the terror group.

It has been targeting tourist areas since 1979, in an attempt to damage Spain's economy, which is heavily dependent on the tourist industry.

In the past it has hit the Mediterranean coast, the most popular part of Spain with foreign tourists.

Last summer, dramatic attacks in tourist areas in Alicante, southern Spain, sent a shiver through the collective spine of the Spanish authorities.

No-one was killed, but photos of blood-spattered tourists did nothing to help reassure those planning their holidays in Spain and briefly damaged the tourism industry.

ETA violence has killed more than 800 people in 36 years, though its last
fatal attack was in May 2003.

But despite the latest round of attacks, which follow in the wake of the massacre of 191 commuters in Madrid in March by Islamic extremists allied to al-Qaeda, Spain's tourism industry does not appear to have been dented.

The international threat of extremist attacks has so far had only a limited impact on tourism, mostly in changing travel patterns, according to tourism professionals.

*quote2*Augusto Huescar, who conducts marketing for the Madrid-based World Tourism Organisation (WTO), said: "People are increasingly assuming the risk factor. Uncertainty has become part of their way of life."

Huescar remained optimistic, claiming regular visitors to

0 Comments To This Article