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Wednesday, 19 July, 2000, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Bomb hits Basque capital
Scene of the explosion
The blast tore off the roof of a food centre
A bomb has exploded in a shopping centre in the capital of the Spanish Basque region, Vitoria, causing severe damage but no injuries.


They are not going to force us to our knees

Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar
The early morning attack was the fourth in the past week blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA, who are fighting for independence for the region.

Several hours later, a bomb was found attached to a car belonging to socialist politician Jose Asenjo in the southern port city of Malaga.

Nobody has claimed responsibility but the incident came four days after another politician was shot dead in Malaga by a suspected Basque gunman.

Suspicious

Mr Asenjo noticed something suspicious as he was about to get into his car with his family.

More on ETA
ETA's bloody record
Leaders in the shadows
Timeline: Key events
The Irish connection
Who are the Basques?
Police cordoned off the area and safely detonated the device, which was attached to the underside of his car.

Police in Vitoria were told of the device by an anonymous caller claiming to represent ETA minutes before it went off, a police spokesman said.

The blast also destroyed much of the headquarters of a bank in the building and shook residents of nearby apartments out of their beds.

Police investigation

Police are collecting pieces of the bomb, placed near an automatic teller machine in the building, to identify its components.

Potest against rising violence
Thousands protested against the rising violence on Monday
It is common for youth gangs supporting independence in the semi-autonomous Basque region to throw Molotov cocktails at government buildings.

However, a Basque government spokesman told the Associated Press news agency that the bomb was more powerful than the home-made device of youth gangs.

"This is savagery. Society must reject them," Enrique Villar, the central government's representative in the Basque region, told state radio.

Rising violence

The blast follows two car bomb attacks, one in Madrid, and the killing of a town councillor in the southern resort of Malaga in recent days.

The Madrid car bomb exploded near one of the city's largest department stores, injuring at least eight people and shattering windows in all 10 storeys of the building.


On Monday, thousands of people gathered in towns and cities across Spain to protest against the increasing violence, with placards saying "Peace Yes - ETA No" and "No more terrorism".

The biggest demonstration took place in the southern city of Malaga.

Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has rejected ETA's demands for a Basque state as non-negotiable.

"They are not going to force us to our knees, and we are not going to change a policy of which we are fully convinced," Mr Aznar said on Tuesday.

ETA has been blamed for about 800 killings in its 32-year-long campaign for independence for the Basque region.

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See also:

18 Jul 00 | Europe
Protests against Basque violence
16 Jul 00 | Europe
Spanish official gunned down
12 Jul 00 | Europe
Madrid bomb injures eight
02 Dec 99 | Europe
ETA's bloody record
21 Jan 00 | Europe
ETA: Key events
21 Jan 00 | Europe
ETA blamed for car bombs
03 Dec 99 | Europe
ETA ceasefire ends
20 Sep 98 | Europe
Adams urges ETA towards peace
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