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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 January 2007, 00:29 GMT
Spanish march against Eta attack
Protesters in Madrid
The demonstration was large despite being a boycott by some
Hundreds of thousands of people in Spain have demonstrated against a recent bomb attack at Madrid airport by the Basque separatist group, Eta.

Rallies took place in the Basque city of Bilbao and in Madrid itself, where demonstrators carried white banners bearing anti-terrorist slogans.

The marches were boycotted by Spain's conservative opposition Popular Party and by a group representing victims.

They want the government to rule out any further talks with the group.

The boycott by the Popular Party was the first time a major party has not attended an anti-Eta protest since democracy returned to Spain in the 1970s.

Police estimated that at least 175,000 people took to the streets in Madrid, with another 80,000 in Bilbao.

"The saddest thing is that the political parties are incapable of agreeing to demonstrate for something as simple as peace," 43-year-old shop worker Miguel Melgar told the AFP news agency.

Peace problems

Two people were killed and a number of others injured in the Madrid airport bombing, which came after a nine-month Eta ceasefire.

The wreckage of the Madrid airport bombing
The airport bombing was Eta's first deadly attack in years
Although Eta has admitted the attack, it said its "permanent ceasefire", agreed in March, remained intact.

Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba has said he cannot see how the peace process could resume.

After the 30 December bombing he said dialogue with Eta was "finished".

The two deaths at the airport were the first attributed to Eta in more than three years.

The group is seeking an independent state in northern Spain and south-west France.






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