ETA blamed for car bomb at Spanish barracks

A car bomb exploded outside a Civil Guard barracks in the northern Spanish city of Burgos early on Wednesday, injuring 46 people in an attack authorities blamed on Basque separatist rebels ETA.

The blast at about 4am (2am GMT) ripped away most of the outer wall of the multi-storey barracks in of the biggest attacks for some time by ETA, whose ranks have been decimated by arrests.

”It’s almost a miracle no one was hurt more seriously,” an emergency services spokesperson said, adding that the barracks had been evacuated and fire fighters were going through the building.

Most of the injured, who included children, suffered cuts and bruises and although no one was in serious condition, 38 had been transferred to hospital in the historic cathedral town, according to the spokesperson.

The car packed with explosives had been parked outside the barracks, home to members of Spain’s paramilitary police force and their families.

”Those who do this sort of thing will end up in jail,” said Manuel Chaves, one of Spain’s deputy prime ministers.

Authorities believe ETA is under pressure to show it can still mount attacks despite having been weakened by a series of arrests including that of its suspected top commander, Jurdan Martitegi, in April. His capture brought to four the number of commanders caught in less than a year.

ETA is held responsible for killing more than 800 people in the past 40 years in a campaign to carve out an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southern France. It typically employs shootings and car bombs, often targeted at police and army barracks.

Polls indicate most Basques in Spain would favour some sort of independence, although support for ETA violence is confined to a diminishing minority.

The most recent killing blamed on the group was on June 19, when a police inspector died in a booby-trapped car in the northern city of Bilbao.

Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s Socialist government broke off peace talks with ETA after the rebels killed two people with a car bomb at Madrid airport in December 2006.

Eighteen more alleged ETA members were captured in a three-week period in June and July. – Reuters

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