Britons injured in Spanish bomb blast

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The Independent Online
Forty-five British holidaymakers were injured in a bomb explosion at a Spanish airport last night. The Basque separatist group ETA said it carried out the attack.

The tourists were caught in the blast at the Costa Brava airport of Reus, west of Tarragona, as they waited for flights taking them home to Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham.

Most suffered minor cuts but early today at least 22 of them, including a six-year-old boy believed to have serious leg injuries, were detained in local hospitals.

About 900 tourists travelling with Thomson holidays on "changeover day" were in the airport when the bomb went off in the passenger waiting area. It was thought to have been hidden in a waste bin and the blast ripped through the restaurant and bar.

"There was blood everywhere, and a big pool of it near the bar where the bomb went off," said a photographer for the Reuters news agency.

Only five minutes warning was given, in telephone calls to newspapers in nearby Barcelona, and the Basque city of San Sebastian, giving police inadequate time to clear the building.

At least eight Spaniards were also injured in the explosion, including a woman cleaner who was badly hurt.

Shortly afterwards, many other British tourists had narrow escapes when the ETA terrorists planted more bombs in hotels in the coastal resorts of Cambrils and Salou, just south of Tarragona. The Salou bomb was in the Princess Hotel, which was packed with Britons, but it was found in a hotel lavatory and detonated in a controlled explosion, as was the Cambrils device. Both hotels were evacuated.

Thomson, Airtours and First Choice holidays all use Reus airport for holidaymakers going to the Costa Brava and Costa Dorada. Worried relatives jammed switchboards in Britain and Spain last night anxious to find out more news; directory inquiries said they were inundated with calls from people wanting an emergency number.

As part of a campaign to hurt Spain's tourist industry, currently the second largest in the world behind France, ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom) has exploded six bombs in southern Spanish tourist towns during the past three weeks.

During the summer of 1995, the group exploded three bombs at tourist locations in Reus, Cambrils and Salou as part of a similar campaign. ETA has waged a 28-year struggle for the creation of an independent Basque nation made up of seven provinces in Spain and southern France.

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