ETA terrorists believed killed in bombing

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The Independent Online

A car-bomb exploded in the northern Basque city of Bilbao, killing three people in the moving car who may have been activists of the Basque separatist group ETA, police said.

A car-bomb exploded in the northern Basque city of Bilbao, killing three people in the moving car who may have been activists of the Basque separatist group ETA, police said.

Police said they were investigating the possibility that all three victims - who were apparently inside the moving car when it exploded and burst into flames - were armed ETA activists.

The national news agency Efe said one of the victims was Patxi Rementeria, suspected chief of the Commando Vizcaya, one of ETA's bloodiest units.

A Basque police spokesman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said remains of the two men and a woman found at the scene were being examined in an attempt to identify them.

Police were investigating whether the car was enroute to an attack or was transporting the victims and weapons when the bomb exploded, the spokesman said.

Bilbao Mayor Inaki Azuna, who rushed to the scene Monday night, said the "terrorists" had probably targeted "some citizen or a building in Bilbao."

He urged "dialogue instead of pistols and car bombs."

The explosion occurred near a street intersection in the sparsely populated industrial neighborhood of Bolueta in Bilbao shortly before 11 p.m. (2100 GMT).

One body was thrown 50 meters (yards) from the blast. Weapons were also found in the street, apparently blasted from the car in the explosion.

The ETA - an acronym that stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom - has killed some 800 people since beginning a violent campaign in the late 1960s to carve an independent homeland out of Basque areas in northern Spain and southwest France.

In an acceleration of the violence, 17 attacks have been blamed on ETA since it ended a 14-month cease-fire in December, including nine attacks in July alone. Seven people had been killed before Monday's incident.

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.

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