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3 Bombs Aimed at Spanish Forces; Basques Suspected

May 18, 1987|United Press International

MADRID — Suspected Basque guerrillas exploded car bombs outside three security forces headquarters Sunday, killing an elderly woman and injuring nine people in the first fatal terrorist attack in the Spanish capital in 10 months.

The bombs went off within five minutes of each other at about 5:25 a.m. outside navy, air force and paramilitary civil guard headquarters, all within a two-mile radius in downtown Madrid.

Police said the bombs, triggered by time devices, each contained 22 pounds of plastic explosives packed inside pressure cookers. The explosions mangled the three attack cars and also damaged at least 12 cars parked nearby.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but authorities linked the attacks to the separatist group ETA, which took up arms 19 years ago to win independence for the 2.2 million Basques in Spain's three northern Basque provinces.

12 Killed in July

In its last fatal attack in Madrid on July 14, 1986, ETA killed 12 civil guards in a car bombing.

Civil guard chief Luis Roldan said Sunday's attacks appeared to be a "needed show of force" by ETA, a Basque-language acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom, after the dismantling of its Madrid structure in an anti-terrorist sweep Jan. 21.

Authorities said the bombings also may have been aimed at disrupting the campaigning beginning Friday for Spain's June 10 local and regional elections. ETA often will time its attacks to coincide with major political events.

Most of ETA's attacks, which have killed five people this year and more than 500 since 1968, have been aimed at security forces it accuses of "occupying" the Basque region.

Sunday's largest blast, at the civil guard's headquarters, killed 74-year-old Carmen Pascual, who was riding with three family members in a passing car.

Her daughter and nephew underwent emergency surgery to remove glass from their faces, authorities said. The third family member and two passers-by were treated for less severe cuts.

'It's Savage, Savage'

"We kept calling for help. It's savage, savage," said Pascual's daughter as she lay on a stretcher awaiting surgery.

Five minutes before the civil guard bombing, a car bomb blew out the main door at navy headquarters on the central Castellana boulevard, slightly injuring a marine guard.

The impact also mangled a traffic light and shattered windows at the luxury Ritz Hotel, the city's ornate main post office and other buildings in the vicinity.

Almost simultaneously, a bomb exploded at air force headquarters, 1 1/2 miles from the residence of Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez. An air force guard and two passers-by were injured by flying glass, police said.

Police said the cars used in the bombings had false license plates and that two were apparently stolen in the Basque city of San Sebastian near the French border.

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