Rockets And Car Bomb Explode At Defense Ministry, 9 Wounded
MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Twelve anti-tank rockets were fired at the Defense Ministry on Monday from an bomb-rigged car that exploded 15 minutes later. Police said nine people were hurt and blamed the attack on Basque guerrillas.
A ministry statement said six rockets hit the building at midmorning and one landed in the office of the deputy personnel director, Vice Adm. Carlos Vila Miranda, wounding him slightly. Defense Minister Narcis Serra was in his fourth-floor office, but was not hurt, the statement said.
It was the second attack in Madrid in a week. The Basque separatist organization ETA claimed responsibility for a July 14 car bombing that killed 10 young paramilitary civil guards riding in a bus through the same fashionable residential neighborhood in which Monday’s attack occurred.
ETA has claimed responsibility for attacks this year in which 26 people have been killed, and four of its members have been slain in shootouts with police. The separatists have been fighting for years for an independent nation in three Basque-dominated provinces of northern Spain.
ETA has concentrated its attacks on civil guards, other policemen and military targets in Madrid and in the Basque country. The initials mean Basque Land and Liberty in the Basque language.
In Paris, a car bomb exploded early Monday outside the offices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, breaking windows but injuring no one, police reported.
The French terrorist group Direct Action claimed responsibility. It was the fourth bombing in Paris claimed by the group this month, including one that killed an inspector at a police office.
Government spokesman Manuel Moles said the 12 rockets were fired from a sedan double-parked on Manuel de Falla Street in northern Madrid, about 450 feet from the the ministry across the Paseo de la Castellana, one of the city’s main thoroughfares.
He said four rockets hit parked cars, one hit a wall and ricocheted into a bus, and one failed to explode.
Moles said at the car bomb was detonated by remote control at 10:28 a.m., 15 minutes after the rockets were fired, and eight people were wounded by flying debris, including a policeman.
Mayor Juan Barranco called the attacks ″part of a cancer, a gangrene that affects the entire social body, and particulary Madrid.″
Some officials linked the Monday attack to France’s expulsion Saturday of Jose Manuel Varona Lopez, an alleged member of ETA’s Spain Commando, which operates in the capital.
His expulsion marked the first time France handed over a Basque exile to Spanish police without a warrant from Interpol, the international police agency. The Basque country extends across the border into southern France.
Hundreds of demonstrators in the northern Basque city of San Sebastian set fire to an army jeep Sunday night outside the military governor’s headquarters to protest the French surrender of Varona Lopez.
Monday’s attack on the Defense Ministry comes three days before Felipe Gonzalez, the Socialist prime minister, is to be sworn in for his second four- year term. He has refused to negotiate with the ETA unless the separatists agree to lay down their arms.
Police at the scene Monday speculated that the operation was intended to cause panic rather than casualties, but a resident of an apartment building on Manuel de Falla Street said it ″could have been a massacre with all the kids around here.″
Since 1968, ETA has claimed responsibility for the deaths of nearly 600 civil guardsmen, other police and military officers.
France has expelled 37 suspected members of ETA since 1984.
Many Basques acquired political refugee status in France during the waning years of the Francisco Franco dictatorship in Spain.
Two years after Franco’s death in 1975, Spain offered a general amnesty to ETA members not suspected of ″blood crimes,″ but several hundred Spanish Basques chose to remain in France.
Spanish Basques accepted a home-rule statute in 1979 that grants considerable autonomy to the region, which has a population of 3 million.