Two die in Eta bomb attack near barracks

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The Independent Online

A huge car bomb killed two Civil Guard officers, a man and a woman, in a small Spanish village near the border with France yesterday.

A huge car bomb killed two Civil Guard officers, a man and a woman, in a small Spanish village near the border with France yesterday.

They were the 10th and 11th people killed this year in a campaign of violence by Basque separatists that has caused dismay across Spain.

Irene Fernandez Pereda, 32, died instantly when the blast flung her body seven metres from the car. Her colleague Jose Angel de Jesus Encinas, 22, died on the way to hospital in the nearby town of Huesca.

The bomb, attached to their vehicle, which was parked outside the Civil Guard barracks in Sallent de Gallego, exploded as the two started their morning patrol.

The Interior Minister, Jaime Mayor Oreja, and the head of the paramilitary Civil Guard, Jose Antonio Valdevielso, rushed to the village, where Basque separatists bombed the security barracks three years ago. Officials believe the area, in the autonomous region of Aragon, lies on a main access route for Eta separatists between France and Spain. Mr Valdivielso yesterday declared a state of maximum alert throughout the region.

The secretary general of the ruling Popular Party, Javier Arenas, condemned the attack, saying the two members of the paramilitary Civil Guard "were assassinated for carrying out their functions, and for defending the rights and freedoms of all of us".

On Saturday night, security forces raided six "safe houses" linked to Eta separatists in the Basque capital of Vitoria, seizing arms, detonators, dynamite, car bombs and documents. They detained two women and a man and claimed to have dismantled a powerful Eta network.

Last week, Basque police detonated 100kg of explosives that had been planted in vehicle believed to have been abandoned by Eta on a motorway near Huesca.

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