A car bomb exploded outside a Civil Guard barracks in the northern Spanish city of Burgos early yesterday, injuring 46 people in an attack authorities blamed on Basque separatist rebels ETA.
The blast at around 4am ripped away most of the outer wall of the 14-story barracks in of the biggest attacks for some time by ETA, whose ranks have been decimated by arrests
“It’s almost a miracle no one was hurt more seriously,” an emergency services spokesman said, adding that the barracks had been evacuated and fire fighters were going through the building.
Most of the injuries from the blast were from flying glass, and 38 of the wounded were treated in hospitals, regional ministry representative Miguel Alejo said.
Many of the injured were Civil Guard police officers and family members.
The car packed with explosives had been parked outside the barracks, home to members of Spain’s paramilitary police force and their families.
The bomb left a crater that had filled with water from broken underground pipes, Alejo said.
“The car used to cause the explosion has been displaced some 70 meters, so that gives you an idea of the power of the blast,” he said
Police and emergency services did not receive any warning that a bomb had been planted, but the explosion had the hallmarks of an ETA attack, Alejo said.
It was not immediately clear how many people were in the building at the time.
“Those who do this sort of thing will end up in jail,” Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Manuel Chaves said.
Authorities believe ETA is under pressure to show it can still mount attacks despite having been weakened by a series of arrests including that of its suspected top commander, Jurdan Martitegi, in April.
His capture brought to four the number of commanders caught in less than a year.
ETA is held responsible for killing more than 800 people in the past 40 years in a campaign to carve out an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southern France.
It typically employs shootings and car bombs, often targeted at police and army barracks.
Polls indicate most Basques in Spain would favor some sort of independence, although support for ETA violence is confined to a diminishing minority.
The most recent killing blamed on the group was on June 19, when a police inspector died in a booby-trapped car in the northern city of Bilbao.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialist government broke off peace talks with ETA after the rebels killed two people with a car bomb at Madrid airport in December 2006.