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2 Injured in Car Explosion in Spain

February 19, 2002

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BILBAO, Spain (AP) _ A bomb attached underneath a car exploded Tuesday, costing a political activist his leg and injuring another person, in an attack that police blamed on Basque separatists.

The blast came just hours before leaders of Spain’s governing Popular Party and the Socialists were to meet in Madrid to discuss new laws allowing the judiciary to outlaw parties that support the separatist ETA, such as the Batasuna coalition.

Eduardo Madina, 26, a prominent member of the Socialists youth section in the Basque region, was driving to work on the outskirts of Sestao town outside Bilbao when the bomb under his car exploded. His left leg was later amputated.

One other unidentified person suffered light injuries in the blast.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for the Ertzaintza regional police force said the attack bore the hallmarks of ETA, which has frequently used car bombs in its 34-year campaign for Basque independence.

Madina is a member of the Elkarri social group, which has been working for years to promote dialogue in the Basque region and to resolve the conflict peacefully.

``The attack is to be condemned and abhorred,″ said Bittor Aierdi, spokesman for Elkarri. ``Eduardo Madina worked on our project to bring peace to the Basque region. We will continue. Whoever has a better alternative for peace, let them put it on the table.″

ETA, an acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom in the Basque language, is classified as a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States. It has claimed responsibility for more than 800 killings since 1968. The last were attributed to it on Nov. 23 when two Ertzaintza officers on traffic duty were shot dead.

Batasuna, meanwhile, maintained its custom of not condemning attacks.

``Above the pain each of us feel, we must bring about a democratic solution to this situation. The democratic solution is the Basque people’s right to choose,″ said party leader Arnaldo Otegi.

Otegi claimed that outlawing his party would only push back a solution and ``cause more suffering.″

ETA and Batasuna demand the right to self-determination for the Basque region, which they claim includes Basque areas in southwestern France and in the neighboring Spanish region of Navarra.

The Spanish government denies the Basque have a right to self-determination and insists there can be no solution until ETA ends its violent campaign.

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