ETA gunman murders prosecutor

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A prosecutor has been shot dead in southern Spain in an attack authorities blame on the armed Basque group ETA.

A prosecutor has been shot dead in southern Spain in an attack authorities blame on the armed Basque group ETA.

Hours later a car bomb exploded nearby, but no-one was injured.

Luis Portero, head state attorney for the southern Andalucian Superior Court, was shot in the head as he entered his apartment building in the southern city of Granada shortly after noon, said a police spokeswoman in the regional capital of Seville.

A medical report said the 59-year-old married father-of-four was "in a deep and irreversible coma," and described him as brain dead.

Earlier police and news reports said Portero had died.

The attack was believed to have been carried out by three people, said the spokeswoman, customarily not identified

Two shots were fired at the attorney, one hitting him in the back of the head.

Spanish National Radio reported that two hours later a car bomb exploded on a street close to where the shooting took place. Police were not immediately able to comment on the report.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the shooting, authorities pointed to ETA which has claimed nearly 800 killings since it began a bombing and shooting campaign for the independence of northern Spain's Basque region in 1968.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who is on official visit to Italy, condemned the shooting but vowed the government would stand firm in the battle against ETA, Spanish National Radio reported.

Justice Minister Angel Acebes said that with this attack ETA showed contempt for life and the rule of law.

So far this year, ETA has claimed the killing of 12 people and is blamed for one other.

Earlier, an army officer in Seville found a bomb in his car believed planted by ETA. The device is the third found by military personnel in the city in as many days.

While most of ETA's victims have been security force personnel, ETA, whose name is a Basque-language acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom, has frequently attacked judicial figures as part of its 32-year campaign.

Spanish and French police have responded to ETA's stepped-up campaign this year with the arrest of more than 30 suspected ETA members and supporters in recent weeks.

Pacifist groups have called for demonstrations in cities throughout Spain on tomorrow to denounce the shooting.