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Madrid bomb explodes following ETA warning

Xinhuanet | May 25, 2005

A car bomb exploded in Madrid on Wednesday after a warning in the name of the separatist Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA), slightly injuring three people.

Local media, citing police authorities, said the explosion occurred around 9:30 a.m. (0730GMT) in the San Blas district in the north of the Spanish capital after a warning call to the Basque newspaper Gara, often a mouthpiece for ETA.

Three people were slightly injured, police said. Police had sealed off the area and TV footage showed a large column of black smoke rising from the explosion site.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero condemned the bombing while speaking to the senate.

"I want to share with you my condemnation for this violent act, for this act of terror," Zapatero said.

"I repeat that the terrorist group ETA's only fate is to give up its arms and disband," he said.

The blast occurred just days after a vote by the Spanish Parliament to give the government permission to hold peace talks with ETA if the group laid down its arms.

Under the proposal backed by parliament, ETA would have to "disband and put down its arms" before the government would accept negotiations.

However, Spanish media reports said the group had announced it would never give up arms first in order to facilitate a negotiation. Instead, it suggested declaring an indefinite cease-fire during talks with the government.

Suspected members of ETA, listed as a terrorist organization bythe United States and the European Union, detonated four small bombs in northern Spain on May 15, injuring three people.

The group, established in 1959, has been blamed for hundreds of assassinations, kidnappings and bombings in its bid to establish an independent state in the Basque areas of northern Spain and southwestern France.

The Spanish government tried to hold cease-fire peace talks with the group in 1989 and 1999, but both endeavors failed.

Zapatero's government becomes the first Spanish government to win parliament approval to hold open talks with ETA. Enditem


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