Sat, Aug 25, 2007 - Page 6 News List

ETA thought to be behind yesterday's car bomb in Spain

AP , MADRID

A car bomb exploded yesterday outside a police station in the Basque city of Durango, slightly injuring two officers in what appeared to be the first attack by the separatist group ETA since it called off a ceasefire in June, officials said.

Whoever set off the bomb in Durango, about 40km south of Bilbao, fled in a car and then detonated it in a vacant lot in the nearby town of Amorebieta, the Spanish Interior Ministry office in the Basque regional capital Vitoria said.

The second explosion was not considered an attack, but a means to destroy evidence. No one was hurt, and no damage was reported.

The injured officers suffered cuts from flying glass.

The blast caused serious damage to the Civil Guard station in Durango, shattering windows and damaging police cars parked outside, the ministry office said. Several nearby apartment buildings were also damaged.

"All indications point to ETA," an official at the office said on condition of anonymity because of department rules barring publication of her name.

The official said she did not know if there was a warning call before the attack. ETA usually makes such calls.

ETA called the ceasefire in March last year, but grew frustrated with a lack of government concessions in ensuing peace talks, and set off a huge bomb in a parking area at Madrid's airport on Dec. 30, killing two people.

ETA insisted then that the truce was still in effect, but finally declared it formally over in June, and Spanish security forces have been on alert ever since.

ETA has killed more than 800 people since 1968 in its campaign for an independent Basque state.

Since ETA announced in June it was reactivating "on all fronts," low-level violence by supporters of the group has increased, and Basque business leaders say ETA resumed sending them extortion letters seeking money to fund its campaign.

ETA detonated two small explosive devices on July 25 along the route that the Tour of France used when the race dipped into northern Spain for a few hours. No one was hurt.

Interior Minister Alfredo Rubalcaba said recently that security forces had thwarted several attempted attacks by ETA in the past few months.

Following the attack at the airport -- just days after Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had declared the peace process to be in good shape -- the government halted peace talks with ETA, and the most promising momentum in decades toward an end to the conflict lay in ruins.

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