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Sergeant Killed by Suspected ETA Bomb; Government Vows Action

May 20, 1996

CORDOBA, Spain (AP) _ Spain’s newly inaugurated prime minister vowed to respond ``rapidly and with action″ to a bomb explosion by suspected Basque separatists that killed an army sergeant and wounded three people.

Miguel Angel Ayllon, 27, died instantly when a bomb hidden in a public trash bin exploded Monday morning at a military bus stop near Cordoba, 180 miles southwest of Madrid.

Police said the bomb was meant for a military bus that transports up to 30 soldiers to a nearby army base. However, it was detonated by remote control while the bus was still 200 yards away, they said.

The blast wounded an army captain and two civilians, one of whom remained hospitalized Monday afternoon.

Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who took office two weeks ago, said the French and Spanish interior ministers would meet shortly to step up counter-terrorism operations in ``this extraordinary struggle that Spanish society is waging against ETA terrorists.″

ETA, a Basque-language acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom, has killed more than 760 people since taking up arms in 1968 to win independence for Spain’s northern Basque provinces.

ETA normally claims responsibility for its attacks two or three weeks afterwards. The group tried to assassinate Aznar with a car bomb last year and has targeted Aznar’s Popular Party, which takes a hard-line stance against the separatists.

``The government is not going to negotiate with the terrorists; the only thing these actions do is close off more channels,″ Interior Minister Jaime Mayor Oreja said.

On Monday, two former policemen were jailed on charges of murder, torture and kidnapping in connection with death squads that hunted ETA activists in the 1980s.

A national court judge ordered Enrique Dorado Villalobos and Felipe Bayo, respectively a former sergeant and corporal in the paramilitary Civil Guard, to be held without bond.

The two, who were dismissed from the Civil Guard last year due to accusations of torture, are accused of killing two ETA members in October 1983 in the French city of Bayonne.

The shadowy Anti-Terrorist Liberation Groups claimed responsibility for those deaths and 26 others between 1983 and 1986 in an anti-ETA campaign in southern France.

Several national court magistrates are investigating the anti-terrorist operation and the government’s alleged role in supporting it.

Although the Supreme Court said last month there was no evidence to support allegations that then-Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez was behind the operation, his top national security officials are implicated. Several face trial.