Summit crackdown beaten as Eta explodes two more bombs

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The Independent Online

Two more bombs exploded in Spain yesterday, bringing the total to five in a meticulously timed and targeted chain of Basque separatist attacks during the Seville summit, rattling Europe's leaders and sowing panic among holidaymakers and tour operators along the Costa del Sol.

Two more bombs exploded in Spain yesterday, bringing the total to five in a meticulously timed and targeted chain of Basque separatist attacks during the Seville summit, rattling Europe's leaders and sowing panic among holidaymakers and tour operators along the Costa del Sol.

One of yesterday's explosions was on the same coast, close to the scene of two of the bombings on Friday. The other was in the northern city of Santander. Damage was extensive, but neither caused injuries. The blasts, preceded by telephoned warnings to police from Eta separatists, brutally exposed the impotence of Spain's much-vaunted security crackdown, and silenced claims that Madrid was winning the battle against Basque terrorism.

A British man of 33, badly injured early on Friday by a blast in the Mediterranean resort of Fuengirola, remained seriously ill in hospital yesterday. He was recovering from an operation after objects lodged in his left lung. Two British children and a Moroccan child were treated for injuries, and a Spanish woman remained in hospital.

Popular tourist spots approaching their peak holiday season were targeted in a clear attempt to cripple Spain's biggest industry. Warnings were given, apparently to minimise the number of victims, but in Fuengirola they were received too late.

Future errors in timing could result in tragedy, and are bound to make holidaymakers consider alternative destinations. The Foreign Office yesterday warned British tourists to be on their guard, and tour operators fear a wave of cancellations, just as tourism was picking up after 11 September.

The onslaught marks the most dramatic start Eta has ever made to its annual summer terror campaign. Militants defied the unprecedented security measures to target hotels along the Costa popular with Britons and Germans.

The bombers aimed for maximum international impact, humiliating Spain's Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, for whom Basque terrorism remains by far his biggest headache. "Terrorists have sought to disrupt our summit by creating destruction, confusion and menace," Mr Aznar said at yesterday's close of the summit. "We will continue to combat terrorism with every effort at the European and national level."

The Fuengirola bombing was followed at midday on Friday by a second explosion, in the smart beach playground of Marbella. Another bomb went off on Friday night in Zaragoza, the capital of the north-eastern Aragon region.

As Spain was recovering, a parcel bomb went off at a hotel along the motorway linking Fuengirola with Mijas – another popular haunt of British holidaymakers.

Two hours later, yet another car bomb laid waste a vast area in the northern port city of Santander. Police received a telephone warning, as they had for previous explosions. They had time to evacuate the area, even though the bomb exploded five minutes early.

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