Man dies in Basque blast

A conservative councillor in the Basque region in Spain died in a car-bomb explosion yesterday morning in what seems to have been the first attack this year by the separatist organisation Eta.

Jose Ignacio Irureta Goyena, 35, who represented the ruling Popular Party in the Basque town of Zarauz, near San Sebastian, was the fourth PP local politician to be killed in the past three years.

The last victim was Jose Luis Caso from Renteria, shot in the head last December, and before that the killing of Miguel Angel Blanco in July brought millions out in protest against Eta violence.

Some former Eta leaders, serving prison terms or in exile abroad, recently criticised the organisation's terror tactics and urged steps towards dialogue with mainstream Basque nationalist forces. The government publicly insists dialogue is out of the question, and the constant stream of threats and attacks indicates that Eta's hardliners remain in control.