Basque terrorists kill opponent

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The Independent Online

A bomb blast in Spain's Basque region has claimed the life of a prominent local businessman who opposed the separatist group ETA. The explosion comes a day after four suspected ETA members apparently blew themselves up by accident. The bomb went off around midday in an industrial park in Zumaya, 25 miles west of the coastal city of San Sebastian.

A bomb blast in Spain's Basque region has claimed the life of a prominent local businessman who opposed the separatist group ETA. The explosion comes a day after four suspected ETA members apparently blew themselves up by accident. The bomb went off around midday in an industrial park in Zumaya, 25 miles west of the coastal city of San Sebastian.

Deputy Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy immediately blamed ETA. He called the explosion an example of "barbarity, injustice and lack of respect for the most fundamental rights that people have as human beings - life, freedom to do as they wish and to express their opinion."

The victim was identified as Jose Maria Korta, 52, a well-known entrepreneur in Zumaya, head of a business federation in the surrounding province of Guipuzcoa and an outspoken critic of ETA. He died as he parked outside his business - a machine tool factory- next to a car laden with explosives and detonated by remote control, Zumaya police said.

Korta was married and had three children, Spanish television said. The attack raised to eight the number of deaths blamed on a wave ETA attacks since it announced the end of a 14-month cease-fire in December. Basque business leaders were targeted in at least two of them. No one was killed but 11 people were slightly injured.

Korta had recently made a number of public statements urging dialogue between the government and ETA. His death came a day after four suspected members of ETA died when explosives they were handling in a car driving through the industrial city of Bilbao exploded. Monday night's car bomb exploded in the sparsely populated Bolueta area of Bilbao shortly before 11 p.m. as it approached an intersection.

One of the victims was believed to be Patxi Rementeria, one of the most wanted ETA members and reputed leader of the Vizcaya Commando, one of the group's most active commandos. Vizcaya is the Basque province of which Bilbao is the capital. Police found false identity papers with Rementeria's picture on them at the site of the explosion.

ETA, a Basque-language acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom, is suspected of killing some 800 people since it began a violent campaign in the late 1960s to carve an independent homeland out of Basque areas in northern Spain and southwest France. The recent spate of violence included the assassinations in July of a town councilor in the southern city of Malaga and a former senior government official in the Basque country.

Security force members have traditionally topped the list of ETA targets, but in recent years politicians have also been victimised, especially city councilors of the governing Popular Party and the opposition Socialist party.

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