A bomb blast shook a hotel on Spain’s Mediterranean coast,
raising fears that Basque separatist group ETA has resumed its terror campaign in
tourist resorts. Police said a telephone warning had been given by the group and the
hotel was evacuated.One person was slightly injured in the explosion on Sunday afternoon at the Hotel
Port Denia in the Alicante region, south-east of the city of Valencia. One person
was slightly injured.
The ETA terrorists have carried out dozens of bombings over the past 30 years to
draw attention to their claim for independence from Spain for the Basque province,
and many of their bomb attacks have been on soft economic targets in the Spanish
tourist industry and on police and government officials.
In January, a bomb went off in the seaside town of Getxo near the main Basque city,
Bilbao. In December there was a series of ETA coordinated bomb attacks in the cities
of Santillana del Mar, Ciudad Real, Valladolid, Leon, Avila, Malaga and Alicante.
And in July 2003, ETA bombs exploded in the resorts of Alicante and Benidorm,
injuring 13 people. Some days later, a bomb went off at Santander airport. In 2001,
a judge and two politicians were killed by ETA in attacks in Bilbao, Zaragoza and
San Sebastian. In all cases, telephone warnings were given before the explosions.
The Basque region, which straddles the border with France, already has more autonomy
than any other part of Spain, with its own regional parliament, police force and
taxes. The ETA movement has very little public support for its hard-line violent
tactics. The group was initially blamed for the Madrid train bombing in March 2004,
and made statements of denial which gave the impression that ETA would give up the
use of violence to pursue its political aims.
The Madrid parliament is due to debate a plan for independence for the northern
Basque province this week - and the proposal is almost certain to be voted down.
The United States and the European Union have declared the Basque political party
Batasuna a terrorist group on the grounds of its connections with ETA. Spain’s
Supreme Court has banned Batasuna in March 2003, the first time a political party
has been banned in Spain since the days of Franco who died in 1975. The Spanish
government under King Juan Carlos has said it will never talk to ETA or its
political wing while the group conducts violent attacks.