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1973: Spanish prime minister assassinated

The Spanish Prime Minister, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, has been killed in a car bomb attack in Madrid.

The 70-year-old, his bodyguard and a driver died instantly and four other people were injured after a remote-controlled bomb was detonated as he passed.

A massive explosion sent the car hurtling into the air and over the roof of the San Francisco de Borga Church where Mr Blanco had just been attending mass.

The vehicle landed on the second floor terrace of a building on the other side of the church and a great deal of damage was caused in the area.

No one has admitted carrying out the attack.

The Spanish Government has declared three days of national mourning and the cabinet has held two emergency meetings.

All public buildings are closed but it is not known if a state of emergency will be declared.

Police did not confirm the prime minister had been assassinated until six hours after the attack. They said the killers had dug a tunnel under the street the admiral used regularly on his return from mass.

Demonstrations

Police said the killers triggered the bomb from an opposite basement in a well-planned assassination bid.

The prime minister's death came 15 minutes before the start of a trial involving 10 of Spain's leading opponents of the Franco regime, one of them a Roman Catholic priest.

They were arrested in a Madrid Church 18 months ago and were accused of unlawful assembly.

Thousands of angry demonstrators have campaigned against the case and have already clashed with police.

Commentators said the admiral's death must be seen in the context of this controversial trial and against the backdrop of his staunch support of General Franco's regime.

Not since the Civil War, which ended in 1939, has a government minister died in such violent circumstances.

The former naval officer, who was considered authoritarian and hated Communism, was devoted to the Roman Catholic Church.

He has been succeeded by the vice-prime minister Fernandez Miranda, 57.

In Context
Basque nationalists were blamed for the murder in retaliation for the execution of Basque militants in Spain.

Luis Carrero Blanco had only been prime minister for about six months when he was assassinated.

In June that year Franco had separated the duties of chief of state and head of government and Mr Blanco became prime minister.

He had been influential in improving links with monarchist groups, and his appointment as head of state was considered to be part of a process to restore the monarchy under Juan Carlos.

Mr Blanco was opposed by many for propping up Franco's hard line regime, stifling opposition and for opposing mainstream European political life despite the country's progress in tourism and trade.


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