Zapatero pledges hard line against ETA after blast

3rd September 2007, Comments 0 comments

3 September 2007, MADRID - Spain's prime minister promised a tough line against armed Basque separatist group ETA as a bomb went off on a motorway and a day after four ETA suspects were arrested in France.

3 September 2007

MADRID - Spain's prime minister promised a tough line against armed Basque separatist group ETA as a bomb went off on a motorway and a day after four ETA suspects were arrested in France.

The explosion on the motorway in the northern Rioja caused no damage and was preceded by an anonymous phone warning. A string of phonecalls gave warnings about explosives on other motorways.

"We will be implacable against violence," Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told a miners' festival at Rodiezmo, northern Spain.

"I did all I could to establish a dialogue," he told the crowd, a reference to his government's negotiations for a settlement with ETA before the group's Madrid airport blast last December killed two Ecuadorans.

"ETA will achieve nothing in this country with violence or bombs."

Zapatero also praised Saturday's joint Franco-Spanish police operation during which four suspected ETA members were arrested in Cahors, southern France.

Following the December bombings Zapatero abandoned attempts to seek direct talks with the group, blamed for more than 800 deaths in a four-decade attempt to win independence for the northern region by force.

ETA then called off its ceasefire in June.

Police meanwhile were investigating a bomb that went off on a motorway in northern Spain on Sunday.

The Basque region's traffic assistance network, DYA, told AFP an anonymous Basque-speaking caller phoned the organisation around 1:50 pm (1150 GMT). He said explosives had been placed on the N232 motorway around the town of Fuenmayor in the northern Rioja region.

Anti-terrorist sources confirmed media reports that a small device had exploded there around 1430 GMT "without causing damage."

Asked if the caller had purported to speak for armed Basque separatist group ETA the DYA spokeswoman said: "They simply informed us of (the explosives) being placed. We assume it was this kind of call," she added.

The regional government delegate in the northern region of Cantabria meanwhile said police had closed off a two-kilometre (1.2-mile) segment of the A-67 motorway around the northern town of Torrelavega after another warning.

Explosives experts were also combing stretches of motorway in two other northern regions, Burgos and Guipuzcoa, said the spokemsna.

This followed further threats as thousands of holidaymakers travelled home on the final day of the summer break.

He added that the calls spoke of several devices having been laid, including at Barreda and Arminon in Cantabria, Rubena in Burgos and Bergara in Guipuzcoa, a Basque province.

On Sunday police in Cahors were wrapping up a search in the house the four had rented. Investigators took some 800 items.

Explosive chemicals, some 30 detonators and a makeshift bomb workshop were found in the house the day before.

Among those arrested was Luis Ignacio Iruretagoyena, who French and Spanish officials said was ETA's chief explosives expert.

Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said those detained had played key roles in December's Madrid airport bombing.

The four arrested were due to be transferred from Cahors to Paris on Monday.

[Copyright AFP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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