Thu, Jul 24, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Booby-trap bomb hurts 13 in hotel on Spanish coast

MULTIPLE EXPLOSTIONSnA telephone call warned police about the bombs which went off 20 minutes earlier than the caller said they would. No one died

AP , MADRID, SPAIN

Thirteen people, including several European tourists, were injured when bombs exploded Tuesday at two beachfront hotels along Spain's Mediterranean coast. Authorities blamed the Basque separatist group ETA.

The explosions occurred at the Hotel Residencia Bahia in Alicante and the Nadal hotel in Benidorm, about 400km from the Spanish capital.

Police evacuated both areas after a telephone caller claiming to represent ETA disclosed the locations of the bombs and the times they were set to explode. They went off within minutes of each other, and about 20 minutes earlier than announced.

"This is evidently a case of two booby-trap bombs to multiply the impact," Interior Minister Angel Acebes told national TVE in an interview from Alicante after visiting the site.

TVE also featured a mugshot of a young man suspected of having rent the room and placed the bomb at the Alicante Hotel.

The blasts struck first-floor rooms at both hotels. One bomb was left in a suitcase, the other in a bag, officials said.

At Residencia Bahia, the explosion shattered windows, sent plumes of smoke into the street and injured five people slightly.

Spanish television showed a young man with blood streaming down his bare back being led into an ambulance.

The hotel is located a few hundred meters from the local headquarters of the ruling Popular Party and close to a language school were some of the victims were learning Spanish.

A 30-year-old Dutchman was reported to be in a coma, hospital officials said. A German citizen, aged 24, was listed in serious condition but doctors said his life was not in danger.

Also injured were two Swedish women, two female Russians, a 20-year-old British woman and a 28-year-old Spanish woman. They were treated for minor injuries.

The telephone caller contacted the Basque newspaper Gara in San Sebastian, Acebes confirmed.

"Our response to ETA's attacks must be the same: serenity and firmness," Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar told reporters during a previously scheduled news conference with his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern.

"Serenity because they are not going to achieve their targets, and firmness in the application of the law ... All terrorists finish in prison, each time earlier and with harsher sentences," Aznar added.

ETA has claimed or been blamed for more than 800 deaths in its more than 30-year-old campaign of bombings and shootings aimed at creating an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwest France.

The group regularly carries out summer campaigns of bombings and shootings at vacation resorts. The goal is to disrupt Spain's main industry, tourism.

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