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Six U.S. Sailors Injured in Grenade Attack on USO Club in Spain

December 27, 1987|United Press International

BARCELONA, Spain — A youth tossed two grenades into a waterfront USO club Saturday, injuring six U.S. sailors on shore leave, shattering windows and ripping out a water pipe, authorities said.

It was the second attack in Barcelona directed at Americans in less than three months. A Catalonian separatist group claimed responsibility for the earlier attack, which injured eight people at the U.S. consulate, but no group immediately claimed responsibility for Saturday's blast.

Witnesses told police a young man lobbed two grenades into the Iruna Bar at about 6 p.m. while the U.S. sailors were inside. Part of the bar is rented by the USO as a reception center and club for sailors when U.S. Navy ships are in port, a spokesman for the city said.

A Pentagon spokesman in Washington said officials did not know who was responsible for the attack.

From Two Navy Ships

State Department spokesman Ben Justesen said the sailors were from two Navy vessels that had docked in Barcelona on Monday--the frigate Thorn and the destroyer Beary. He said liberty for sailors on both ships was canceled after the blast.

The force of the blast shattered the waterfront bar's windows, ripped out a water pipe and damaged a car parked nearby, but the four-story building was left standing.

Although the USO club was open, the glass-front bar itself was closed. It was not immediately clear how many people were in the USO-rented section, but authorities said at least four women there were not injured in the blast.

The bar is a popular drinking spot for sailors on shore leave in the Mediterranean port city of Barcelona, 400 miles northeast of Madrid.

Authorities said one of the injured, Ronald Strong, was undergoing emergency surgery for abdominal, back and lung wounds at the Hospital del Mar and was listed in critical condition.

"He is very badly injured, and we are worried he may not make it," a city hall spokesman said.

American sailor Todd Ringwelsky was undergoing surgery for a leg wound at the same hospital. Andrew Wayne and Randy Corner were in satisfactory condition with wounds in the forearm and legs, respectively, at the Hospital del Mar.

At the Hospital Clinico, a spokeswoman said Daniel Powell was treated for shrapnel wounds in the back and buttocks.

The sixth sailor, who was not identified, suffered cuts and bruises and returned to his ship, officials said.

Two of the injured were shore patrol police standing at the entrance to the bar when the blast occurred. The victims were between the ages of 20 and 25, but their hometowns were not immediately known.

On April 12, 1985, 18 Spaniards were killed when a bomb exploded at a steak house near Madrid frequented by U.S. servicemen. The pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad later claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Catalonian separatist group Terra Lluire, or Free Land, which is seeking to gain independence for the four northeastern provinces of Catalonia, claimed responsibility for the earlier attack on the U.S. consulate in Barcelona.

Barcelona, which is to host the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, also has been targeted by the Basque separatist organization ETA, although there have been no attacks by the group against Americans.

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