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Two Killed in Separate Attacks in N. Spain

July 15, 2001|From Associated Press

MADRID — Gunmen shot and killed an off-duty policeman in northern Spain on Saturday hours after a bomb killed a politician--separate attacks that were blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA.

The officer, identified as Mikel Uribe, was shot twice in the head while driving to meet friends in the town of Leaburu on Saturday evening. He was pronounced dead at Aranzazu Hospital in San Sebastian, a hospital spokesman said.

The gunmen fled the scene in a car they later abandoned and destroyed with explosives.

Uribe, 44, was the head of a Basque police investigation unit in San Sebastian.

Saturday morning, a bomb exploded and killed a local politician in Leitza, a town about 20 miles northwest of Pamplona, the capital of Navarra province, where the San Fermin festival was concluding after a final run of the bulls.

The Navarra regional government identified the victim as Jose Javier Mugica, 50, a councilor for the Union of the People of Navarra, a center-right party opposed to Basque separatism. Mugica also worked as a photographer.

State radio and other media said Mugica died when a bomb attached to the underside of his van detonated as he started the engine, shortly before 10 a.m.

Navarra is home to many Basque speakers and is claimed by the ETA as part of the independent homeland it wants to build. Many people in Leitza are fervent Basque nationalists, and the town council is dominated by Euskal Herritarrok, a party seen as the ETA's political wing.

The ETA has killed about 800 people in its three-decade battle to carve an independent Basque homeland out of lands straddling northern Spain and southwestern France.

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