Two policemen die in Spanish car bombing

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The Independent Online

A bomb exploded under a police car in northern Spain today, killing two officers and severely wounding a third in an attack blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA.

A bomb exploded under a police car in northern Spain today, killing two officers and severely wounding a third in an attack blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA.

The first blast attributed to ETA in nearly four months occurred at lunchtime in Sanguesa in Navarra province.

Officials had initially said the toll was three dead, but changed this to two policemen dead and one severely injured – doctors amputated his legs – along with a civilian who suffered slight injuries.

"ETA has murdered once again," Deputy Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in Madrid, vowing to use "all means at our disposal" to fight the group and politicians linked to it.

In response to the attack, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar called off a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, where he was to have taken part in a summit between Russia and the European Union, his office said.

ETA often uses car bombs in its campaign for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and south–west France. Its attacks have killed more than 800 people since the late 1960s.

In today's attack the police had entered a local government building in Sanguesa to do administrative chores. When they came back out and got into their Citroen car, a bomb under it detonated, officials said.

It was not clear if the device was attached to the car or simply placed underneath it while the police were inside the building.

The explosion came five days after Basque local elections in which hundreds of pro–independence candidates allegedly linked to ETA's outlawed political wing were barred from running.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing. The last attack blamed on ETA was the shooting in February of a police chief in Andoiain, home to many supporters of the banned Basque party Batasuna.

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