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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July, 2003, 00:55 GMT 01:55 UK
Bomb blasts hit Spanish hotels
Injured man runs from bomb scene in Alicante
Injured people fled from the blasts
Two bombs have exploded in the Spanish resorts of Alicante and Benidorm, injuring at least 13 people.

The devices went off minutes apart in the Hotel Residencia Bahia in Alicante and the Hotel Nadal in Benidorm, after a warning from Basque separatist group ETA.

British, Russian and Swedish people were among the injured in Alicante. In Benidorm, four police officers were hurt.

There was a huge bang followed by clouds of smoke
Martin Morgan
Lord Mayor of Belfast
A German tourist is reported to be in a coma.

One British woman needed several stitches in a small wound before being released from hospital, said the UK Foreign Office.

"This is evidently a case of two booby-trapped bombs placed by the terrorist organisation to multiply the impact," said Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes.

Alicante bomb scene

Tourists caught up in the Benidorm drama included the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Martin Morgan, who was in a chemist shop just 40 yards away.

"There was a huge bang followed by clouds of smoke," he said. "The first reaction was that this might be a gas explosion but then you could smell the sulphur and you just knew it was a bomb."

Both Costa Blanca hotels had been evacuated minutes before the explosions, following the warning that the devices would explode at 1230 (1030GMT).

But Spanish reports said the devices went off shortly after 1200 (1000GMT) - well before the time stated in the warning.

The front left corner of the Benidorm hotel is gone
Tom Cain
Costa Blanca News
Local television images showed smoke rising from the seafront hotel in Alicante, where it appeared the explosion happened in a first-floor room.

The Benidorm hotel is on the resort's beach.

"The scene is totally cordoned off, there are various people crawling through the wreckage trying to assess the damage," said Tom Cain of the English-language Costa Blanca News.

"The front left corner of the hotel is gone. There's another hotel only five metres away that has a bar which has been blown in.

Bull-runner tossed into air
Pamplona's festival has already been targeted by ETA
ETA has previously targeted Spain's tourist industry. Last summer's attacks included a car bomb in the Costa Blanca resort of Santa Polo, which killed a six-year-old girl and a 50-year-old man.

Earlier this summer a newsletter sent to reporters said the group would again try to disrupt tourism and multi-national companies.

A small bomb went off in a Bilbao hotel on 23 June, and less than a fortnight ago ETA planted a device in a hotel in Pamplona during the annual bull-running festival.

ETA is blamed for killing more than 800 people in its campaign for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and south-western France.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Claire Marshall
"More violent attacks could drive the holidaymakers and the money they bring in away"



SEE ALSO:
ETA suspects held near Pamplona
15 Jul 03  |  Europe
Pamplona hotel bomb defused
14 Jul 03  |  Europe


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