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Police: ETA bomb damages political party office in Spain's Basque region

Police: ETA bomb damages political party office in Spain's Basque region

A small bomb damaged the office of Spain's governing party in a Basque town an hour after authorities received a warning call from the armed separatist group ETA, an official said Tuesday. No injuries were reported.
The blast, which occurred shortly after 9 p.m. (2000 GMT) Monday, coincided with the annual televised Christmas Eve speech by King Juan Carlos in which the monarch called for unity among political parties in the fight against terrorism.
Spain's Socialist party and the leading conservative opposition Popular Party have been divided in recent years over measures to combat ETA, an organization which has killed more than 800 people since the late 1960s in its campaign for an independent Basque homeland in a region straddling northern Spain and southwest France.
The group broke a cease-fire with a large car bombing at a Madrid airport parking garage in December 2006, killing two people. It declared the cease-fire officially over in June and since then has carried out several nonfatal bombings and a shooting that killed two Spanish policemen in France.
"2007, which started off with the anger, indignation, suffering left by the brutal attack in Barajas (airport), ends with the profound pain and firm repulsion caused by the vile killing of two young Civil Guards," the king said.
"We need as soon as possible a culture of unity which would make effective the commitment of democrats to finish with terrorism once and for all," he added.
Monday's device exploded at the back of a Socialist party office in the town of Balmaseda, near the port city of Bilbao, a police spokeswoman said.
Police said they had evacuated residents from nearby houses after the Basque roadside assistance organization DYA received the call from a person speaking in the name of ETA.
The explosion came as families and friends gathered throughout Spain for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner.
The police spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with institutional rules, said the blast caused considerable damage to the party office and smashed windows in nearby houses and cars.
The device was made up of some 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of explosives, police said. ETA set off a similar-sized bomb Dec. 16 outside a courthouse in the Basque town of Sestao.
In other incidents late Monday, gangs of youths believed to be linked to ETA threw firebombs at three banks and an insurance office in the Basque town of Gexto.
The attacks were condemned by both the Socialists and the Popular Party on Tuesday.