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Spanish Official: ETA Commando Unit Responsible for Bomb - 2002-02-19


Spanish police are blaming the Basque separatist group ETA for a bombing Tuesday that injured two people, including a prominent local politician in a northern Spanish town. The attack took place on the day when Spain's ruling Popular Party and the main opposition Socialists met to discuss new anti-terrorist measures.

News reports say Eduardo Madina Muńoz left for work Tuesday morning and had traveled 10 kilometers when a bomb attached to his automobile exploded.

It was early in the morning when the bomb went off while 26-year-old politician was in the town of Sestao, near the port city of Bilbao, the largest Basque city.

Mr. Madina was able to drag himself out of the car and was attended by bystanders until police and an ambulance arrived. Doctors later had to amputate his left leg above the knee. A second person was reported injured by flying glass.

Mr. Madina is a history professor and for the past decade has been active in the young Basque Socialists organization. He is a member of the group's executive committee and has served as a town councilman.

Mr. Madina is known for his attempts to maintain a dialogue with radical Basque separatists, and has said that he was working for the day when opposition politicians in the Basque Country would not require bodyguards and no one would go to jail for violent separatist activity.

Spanish Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy said he believed that the Vizcaya commando unit of ETA was responsible for the attack. The group has been blamed this year for setting off a car bomb in downtown Bilbao and for sending mail bombs to journalists, none of which caused serious injury.

ETA has killed more than 800 people in a 30-year campaign to establish an independent Basque state in southern France and northern Spain.

The attack on Mr. Madina took place on the day when Spain's ruling Popular Party and the main opposition Socialists where scheduled to meet to discuss new, tougher anti-terrorist measures to combat ETA, including making its political wing, Batasuna, illegal for supporting terrorism.

Spain, which holds the European Union's rotating presidency until the end of June, has made the fight against terrorism a major priority and has succeeded in expediting extradition procedures among E.U. members.

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