Two hurt in suspected ETA car bomb attack

24th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

Two hurt in suspected ETA car bomb attack at police barracks

MADRID, Aug 24, 2007 (AFP) - A car bomb exploded Friday outside a police barracks in Spain's northern Basque region, in what was believed to be the first attack by the separatist group ETA since it ended a ceasefire in June.

"Everything indicates it is ETA," a civil guards spokesman told AFP after the blast at around 3:30 am (0130 GMT) which slightly injured two policemen at Spain's paramilitary Guardia Civil barracks in the town of Durango.

There was no advance warning and no immediate claim of responsibility from ETA, which formally called off a ceasefire in June.

Spain's director general of police, Joan Mesquida, said the car bomb had used between 80 and 100 kilograms (175 and 220 pounds) of explosive and could have reaped a "real carnage".

Although ETA normally gives telephone warnings of impending attacks, Cadena Ser radio said this had not been the case regarding operations against the security forces.

An employee of the Basque region's traffic assistance network, DYA, said the explosion "left two policemen slightly hurt with cuts," and added ambulances had been sent to the scene.

An hour after the blast a burnt-out car was found which Basque police said may have been used in the attack.

The Europa Press news agency quoted anti-terrorist police as saying the vehicle was Portuguese-registered and that the bombers had apparently fled the scene in another car.

ETA has been blamed for 819 killings over a four-decade separatist campaign in the Basque region.

It declared a "permanent ceasefire" in March 2006 and opened tentative talks aimed at embarking on a negotiated peace settlement with the government.

Apparently frustrated with lack of progress, the group bombed Madrid airport on December 30, killing two Ecuadoran men.

Following that attack, the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero broke off attempts to broker face-to-face talks with the extremists. Some six months later ETA announced its ceasefire was officially over and it was resuming its armed campaign "on all fronts".

Zapatero, when he came to power in April 2004, had made resolving the Basque conflict one of his priorities, but the Madrid bombing and the end of the ceasefire forced a change in policy..

"There is no room for a dialogue," he said back in July.

Recent weeks have seen a swathe of arrests of ETA suspects, mainly in France, with Paris having in recent years ramped up cross-border cooperation with Madrid.

A total of 18 suspected group members have been detained this summer and 400 kilos of explosives impounded across late June and early July, prompting Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba to warn of an imminent attack.

Friday's blast came hours before Zapatero was to chair his first cabinet meeting after the summer break.

It also came ahead of a planned rally later Friday by separatists in the Basque region of southwestern France where President Nicolas Sarkozy was due to meet police involved in recent anti-ETA operation.

The rally was organised by ETA's political wing, Batasuna, which is banned in Spain, but not in France.

AFP

Subject: French news

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