Madrid Blames Basque Separatists for Toy Bomb Blast

Published August 21st, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Spanish Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy on Tuesday linked the toy bomb blast that killed a woman and blinded her baby grandson in San Sebastian to Basque radicals close to the separatist organization ETA. 

"Although we are not ruling out any leads, the intelligence services of the interior ministry believe that this is an act of 'kale borroka'," said Rajoy, using the Basque term describing the campaign of urban violence being waged by Basque militants. 

The Basque regional government did not immediately respond to Rajoy's allegations, and a San Sebastian police spokesman said only that the investigation was continuing.  

Authorities initially declined to link the booby-trapped toy to the ETA, saying the explosion was not typical of bombings carried out by the separatists. 

The remote-controlled toy car, packed with explosive powder and a trigger device, was left Saturday in a family-owned bar in San Sebastian where Basque protesters had staged a rally. 

It exploded in a car carrying the woman, her daughter and two grandchildren. 

The blinded 16-month-old baby was in critical condition after a seven-hour operation, according to doctor Eduardo Perez, the head of intensive care at the San Sebastian hospital.  

The baby's other injuries ranged from a skull fracture to brain damage, he said, adding that the prognosis was not good. 

The baby's 62-year-old grandmother, Francisca Araunzetamurgil Alkorta, sitting with the infant in the back seat of the family car, bled to death after a fragment of the toy cut the carotid artery in her neck. 

The child's four-year-old brother was slightly hurt, but their mother escaped injury. Both were in the front seat of the car, police said. 

Josu Jon Imaz, spokesman for the Basque regional administration, called Tuesday for a thorough investigation of the incident, urging citizens to help authorities find those responsible for "this assassination." 

In a statement Monday, the radical Basque party Batasuna, ETA's political wing, criticized media reports that suggested the ETA was involved. The media reports amounted to a "manipulation of information," it held. 

ETA has carried out numerous bomb attacks in a decades-old campaign for independence in Spain's northern Basque country. 

On Saturday a car bomb attributed to ETA exploded in the parking lot of a hotel packed with foreign tourists in the coastal resort of Salou near Barcelona. 

The bombing, which injured 10 people, was seen as an ETA attempt to disrupt the Spanish tourist industry during the peak summer season. 

Following that attack, officials from the interior ministry in Madrid and their counterparts from the Basque and Catalan regional governments met Monday to discuss ways of countering the ETA campaign. 

In recent weeks, ETA has attacked mainly tourist and economic interests along the Spanish coast. 

The last fatal attacks attributed to ETA in the Spanish Basque country took place on July 14 -- a car bombing which killed a municipal councilor and the shooting death of a policeman. 

Two indiscriminate attacks never resolved by police took place in May 1994. 

A mother and daughter were seriously injured when they picked up a booby-trapped wallet on a Basque country beach, and a man, 72, had to have his hand amputated due to injuries sustained when another wallet exploded. 

No one claimed responsibility for the incidents -- PONTEVEDRA, Spain (AFP) 

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

You may also like