British children injured in Costa del Sol car bombings

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The Independent Online

Basque militants launched three car-bomb attacks in Spain yesterday, injuring three Britons and unleashing a wave of terror along the Costa del Sol at the start of the holiday season.

Basque militants launched two car-bomb attacks in two popular Spanish resorts on the Spanish Mediterranean yesterday, injuring three Britons and unleashing a wave of terror along the Costa del Sol at the start of the holiday season.

The blasts in Marbella and Fuengirola ­ both teeming with tourists ­ came as EU heads of government opened their summit in Seville just 100 miles away.

A third car bomb blast rocked the northeast city of Zaragoza later that night, the Interior Ministry said. Police said a security guard was slightly injured in the explosion at the Corte Ingles department store parking lot.

The three injured Britons, two of them children, were among six people hurt near the Hotel Piramides in Fuengirola. The early-morning timing not only jolted the European summit, but frightened hundreds of English football fans as they headed for local bars to support their team in the televised World Cup match against Brazil. A British man, aged 33, was seriously hurt by shrapnel that embedded in his lung, and was in intensive care last night after surgery. A Moroccan child was also injured, and a Spanish couple were treated in hospital.

Police were warned of the attack, but not in time to evacuate the hotel. Some 40kg of cloratite explosive shattered the front of the hotel, yards from the beach. Panic resulted, intensified by three further explosions as police deactivated suspicious devices along Fuengirola's promenade.

The second bomb exploded at midday in a central boulevard of Marbella, outside the Sultan Hotel. It sent a column of black smoke billowing into the sky from five charred vehicles. A warning received in time enabled police to evacuate the area.

The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, expressed his "profound concern and anger" at the twin blasts. "My condemnation of this outrage is absolute ... We express our full support with the government and people in Spain in their continuing fight against this scourge of Basque terrorism," he told journalists in Seville.

Talks at the summit were dominated by wrangling over Britain and Spain's plans to punish poor nations which fail to curb illegal immigration to Europe.

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