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The BBC's Orla Guerin
"Spain is now a country in mourning once again"
 real 28k

Peace negotiator Gorka Espiau
"Dialogue is the only way forward"
 real 28k

The BBC's Daniel Schweimler reports
Spain's main political parties have united to condemn the attack
 real 28k

Friday, 21 January, 2000, 15:52 GMT
ETA blamed for car bombs

Car bomb Madrid Bombs exploded near military homes


Police have blamed the Basque separatist group, ETA, for two car bombs which exploded in the Spanish capital, Madrid, killing a senior army officer and injuring several more.

More on ETA
ETA's bloody record
Leaders in the shadows
Timeline: Key events
The Irish connection
Who are the Basques?
All of Spain's main political parties condemned the attack.

The blasts shattered glass and sent flames shooting into the air. Residents were swiftly evacuated as police cars, fire trucks and ambulances rushed to the area.

Two men were seen running from the scene after the attack.

The first explosion killed Spanish army Lieutenant-Colonel Pedro Antonio Blanco Garcia, 47. He was married with two children.

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The bomb went off under his car, just after 0800 local time (0700 GMT), scattering bits of the vehicle across the street.


ETA's actions
Sep 98: ceasefire starts
3 Dec 99: ceasefire ends
21 &22 Dec 99: Police intercept two vans loaded with explosives
30 Dec 99: Police find bomb
Three people were treated for shock while a 14-year-old girl suffered minor cuts.

The explosion occurred close to the centre of the city, in an area where members of the Spanish armed forces live.

The second car blew up a short time later, about 150m away. No further casualties were reported.

Police said they believed the second vehicle was the bombers' getaway car.

Attack expected

No group admitted carrying out the bombings, but the Spanish security forces have been expecting an attack from ETA since it declared an end to its cease-fire last month.



Jose Maria Robles, foreign affairs spokesman for Spain's ruling Popular Party, said he had "no doubt" that ETA was behind the attack.

"Their intention is clear: to kill and maim people in order to obtain by force what they cannot obtain by peaceful and democratic ways."

The Basque regional government said it would suspend its alliance with Euskal Herritarrok - a political alliance based on ETA's political wing Herri Batasuna - unless it distanced itself from the attack.

Euskal Herritarrok spokesman Arnaldo Otegi, said his party regretted the officer's death.

He described the attack as "a tragic event, desired by no-one and which could have been avoided", and said the party was committed to "political and democratic routes".

All the main political parties in the Basque region have been involved in intense negotiations to try to prevent ETA's return to violence.

Some of Spain's other political parties said the attack had killed off any chance of finding a peaceful solution to the 30-year conflict in the Basque region.

A French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Paris would co-operate with Spain to fight terrorism.

Threats

The Spanish Government had feared an attack in the run-up to the general election on 12 March.


lieutenant colonel's body The victim's body is taken away
The authorities in the Basque part of south-western France and across Spain placed bodyguards on prominent politicians and urged people to be vigilant.

The Spanish authorities also said ETA had resumed its practice of sending threatening letters to companies in the Basque region demanding money.

The payments - which the separatist organisation calls a revolutionary tax - have been one of ETA's main sources of funding.

ETA ended the ceasefire because of what it called the continuing repression of both the French and Spanish authorities.

Its violent campaign has claimed around 800 lives in more than three decades.




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See also:
02 Dec 99 |  Europe
ETA's bloody record
21 Jan 00 |  Europe
Picture gallery: Madrid car bombs
15 Jan 00 |  Europe
Rival Basques march for self-rule
31 Dec 99 |  Europe
French police arrest suspected ETA leader
21 Dec 99 |  Europe
ETA attack 'foiled'

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