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Car bomb claimed by Basque separatists injures 3 outside Madrid airport

Car bomb claimed by Basque separatists injures 3 outside Madrid airport

A car bomb exploded in a parking lot at Madrid's new airport terminal on Saturday after a warning call from the Basque separatist group ETA, officials said. Three people were slightly injured.
The blast halted all air traffic on one of the year's busiest travel days, and brought a fiery end to a nine-month-old ETA cease-fire that had spurred the greatest hopes in a decade of a peaceful end to the conflict.
Two warning calls were received in the Basque region just before the explosion. In the second call, a man claimed responsibility for the separatists, the Basque Interior Department's emergency rescue services said.
The bomb exploded at about 9:30 a.m. (0830GMT) at the airport's new Terminal 4, said Javier Ayuso, a spokesman for the emergency rescue services of the Madrid city government.
A column of thick smoke rose from the blast site more than an hour after the explosion and the building housing the parking lot appeared to be on fire.
The terminal was evacuated and the airport was closed, said Iberia, the Spanish flagship carrier that runs most flights out of the terminal.
The Civil Guard, a paramilitary police agency under Interior Ministry command, said the blast was from a car bomb. Ayuso said the injured were a policeman with cuts from flying glass and two other people with light injuries.
The explosion came a few hours after the execution in Baghdad of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, leading to some initial fears that Islamic militants might be involved.
The bombing seemed sure to be the nail in the coffin of a nascent peace effort championed by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. ETA has not killed anyone since May 2003, but continued a series of low-level bombings until just before the cease-fire.
More than 800 people have died since the group took up arms in the late 1960s.
The announcement of peace talks was derided by Zapatero's political opponents, who said he was rewarding an active terrorist group whose motives could not be trusted. The Socialist leader also came under fire from ETA and its political supporters, who accused him of dragging his feet on the peace talks and harassing pro-independence militants with police raids and court rulings.
ETA and its outlawed political wing, Batasuna, have also been demanding _ and the government refusing _ the start of talks among Basque political parties on the region's future. These would be in parallel to talks between the government and ETA on the nuts and bolts of dissolving the armed militancy.
Zapatero said in June he would hold such talks with ETA, but they are not known to have taken place. Pro-ETA street violence that had halted with the truce resumed in earnest in August, and ETA was blamed for a heist of 300 pistols in France in October.
Basque newspapers reported two weeks ago that the government did hold a preliminary meeting with ETA this month in an undisclosed European country to feel out ETA's intentions and that it came away with the sensation that the truce would hold. The government refused to confirm or deny the reports.
As recently as Friday Zapatero said the Spanish government remained optimistic that the ETA cease-fire would lead to a definitive peace process, despite increased speculation that ETA might resume attacks.
In addition to Basque violence, Spain has been in the crosshairs of Islamic militants. The March 11, 2004, bombing by Islamic radicals of commuter trains in the capital killed 191 people, and injured more than 1,500.


Updated : 2021-04-13 06:35 GMT+08:00