Spain confirms ETA plot to kill king in missile attack

14th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Spanish government confirms newspaper’s report that the ETA considered using a surface-to-air missile to kill King Juan Carlos in 2004.

MADRID –Basque separatist group ETA considered using a surface-to-air missile to assassinate Spain's King Juan Carlos five years ago, the Spanish government said Monday.

"It's true that there was a theoretical study, which was never more than that, there was never any concrete plan" by ETA, Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told journalists.

He was responding to a report in the Basque newspaper El Correo Digital Sunday which said that ETA plotted to blow up a helicopter or airplane carrying the Spanish king with a surface-to-air missile.

It said details of the plot were outlined in several CDs which allegedly belonged to ETA and were discovered in 2004. French anti-terrorism services were analysing them, the paper said.

Spanish cabinet ministers were among the other "potential targets" of the planned missile attack, the newspaper added, citing unnamed French anti-terrorism sources.

Police found the CDs at a house in the French town of Saint-Michel, near the Spanish border, along with the remains of a missile which was likely used in a test launch, El Correo Digital said.

The CDs also included a map outlining the routes used by aircraft in the Basque Country and the nearby Gironde region of southwestern France, it added.

"The French specialists who have looked into the plan to attack the highest authorities of the Spanish state consider that the information gathering phase was very advanced," the newspaper said.

Police have foiled other ETA attempts to kill the Spanish monarch, including a plot to shoot him in 2004.

The king enjoys widespread popularity and is credited with helping to strengthen democracy following the death of right-wing dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. But separatists see him as a symbol of a centralised Spain.

ETA is blamed for 825 deaths in its 40-year campaign of bombings and shootings for an independent Basque homeland on territory straddling the Franco-Spanish border in the western Pyrenees.

AFP / Expatica

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