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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 07:07 GMT 08:07 UK
Tourists defy the bombs
Fuengirola, Spain
Fuengirola tourism has not been dented

Two weeks after the Basque separatist group ETA kicked off its summer bombing campaign British tourists are defying the terrorists by flocking to the Costa Del Sol in droves.

Only yards from the sun-drenched beach at Fuengirola workmen are busy repairing the Hotel Las Piramides, which took the brunt of the car bomb blast on 21 June, suffering damage worth 400,000 (600,000 euros).

But the tourism industry, which contributes 12% of Spain's gross domestic product (GDP), appears unaffected.

Holidaymakers, the majority of them British, crowd the beaches and the bombing has left little tangible legacy.

Stephen Clegg, Michelle Henderson and their three children Chantelle, 12, Shelley, 11, and Liam, eight, refused to be put off by the Fuengirola bomb, or two others in nearby Marbella and Mijas.

Hotel Las Piramides
The damaged hotel is being repaired
The family, from Normanton, west Yorkshire, heard about the explosion only days before they were due to fly out.

But Ms Henderson told BBC News Online: "The kids were a bit apprehensive but it didn't put us off. We looked at the bright side that if they had bombed here once they would not do it again in the same place."

She said the bomb had gone off only yards from the apartment where they were staying, and the repair work had disrupted their supply of hot water.

"But that apart, it's been a great holiday. The weather's fantastic, the food and drink is fantastic and it's a great family resort."

Ms Henderson admitted she knew nothing about the Basque cause but Mr Clegg said he knew they wanted a separate state in the north of Spain.

Government action

But he said he believed they were going about it in the wrong way.

"They should do what they did in Scotland. People are sympathetic when you sit around the negotiating table but when you cause mayhem people turn against you. We shouldn't give in to blackmail," he said.

ETA (Euzkadi Ta Azkatasuna) has been fighting for an independent homeland for 30 years.

Their political wing, Batasuna, is supported by up to 200,000 Basques but the Spanish Government has made moves in recent weeks towards banning the party, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Cameraman Enrique Parapar and reporter Javi Gonzalo were working for the local FTV television channel on the day of the Fuengirola bombing.


It has taken too much time and money to arrange and we'd have lost everything if we cancelled

David Taylor, British tourist
Mr Parapar said: "ETA is crazy. There is no sympathy for them in this part of Spain."

Mr Gonzalo said the bombing had quickly been forgotten, adding: "People are on holiday and they just want to relax. They don't want to think about this tragedy."

Six people - three of them children - were wounded in the blast and the worst injuries were suffered by Mario Gauriel, a 33-year-old Briton of Greek extraction.

Derrick Jones, 54, and his friend David Taylor, 50, are on holiday with a group of pals from Newcastle.

They had just booked their flights when they heard about the bombing.

Mr Jones, a factory worker, said the idea of cancelling their holiday never crossed his mind.

Mr Taylor, a lorry driver, said: "It has taken too much time and money to arrange and we'd have lost everything if we cancelled."

Lightning strikes twice

He said he had been to San Sebastian, in the Basque country, a few years ago to play ice hockey and sympathised with the Basque cause.

Spanish TV camera crew
Spanish TV crew: ETA is "crazy"
But he said: "There are ways of settling issues and you can't go around blowing apartments and hotels up just because you don't agree with the government.

"It's just the same as the IRA back home. They (ETA) should negotiate because innocent people are getting hurt."

Ironically the owner of an Irish bar, The Cottage, damaged in the blast had come to Spain for a quiet life after an earlier business in Northern Ireland was destroyed by an IRA bomb.

A note on the door of The Cottage says: "Closed for a while due to a blast from the past."

Brian Keeling, a power worker from Bradford who was booked into the Las Piramides, said he had inquired about cancelling when he heard about the bombing.

Mr Keeling and his elderly mother Muriel decided to come after receiving reassurances from their travel agent. They are now staying in the undamaged part of the giant Las Piramides complex.

"We were very worried when we heard about the bombs. We are just hoping that lightning doesn't strike twice," Mr Keeling said.

A local policeman told BBC News Online things were now back to "normal" in Fuengirola.


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See also:

21 Jun 02 | Europe
25 Jun 02 | Europe
25 Jun 02 | Europe
22 Jun 02 | Europe
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