Spain swept by fury at Basque terror

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Spain, from the Pyrenees to the Canaries, was swept by an unprecedented mass mobilisation against Eta terrorism yesterday following the killing of a Basque conservative local councillor.

In Ermua, in the Basque Country, the body of Miguel Angel Blanco, who was shot in the head on Saturday, was brought home to cries of "assassins!" and "HB [the Herri Batasuna, pro-Eta party] will pay for this" from the crowds.

Blanco's mother, sister and young fiancee wept as they accompanied the coffin into the town hall, where it will stay until the funeral today. Jose Maria Aznar, the Prime Minister, has cancelled all engagements to be there.

And, in the northern city of Pamplona, popular fury and hatred overflowed as hundreds of young people, shouting "sons of bitches!" attacked a smaller group of Eta sympathisers. Police in riot gear and face masks were forced into the uncomfortable, but common, role of keeping pro and anti-Eta factions apart. Police fired rubber bullets at youths attacking the headquarters of the HB party, kicked protesters and hit them with batons, leaving them bruised and bleeding.

Madrid was blocked by protesters throughout the night until yesterday morning and further demonstrations are planned for coming days. Hundreds are maintaining a permanent vigil at the heart of the city in the Puerta del Sol.

In Madrid the Basque leader, Jose Antonio Ardanza, demanded the political isolation of HB, and accused them of being "accomplices of Eta" - an unprecedented condemnation from a man who has long sought dialogue with the gunmen. "Eta has dealt a death blow to our hopes for dialogue and reconciliation," he said.

Murder and shame, page 10