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Police Explode Small Bomb as Security is Stepped Up for Tour

July 16, 1996

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Police detonated a small bomb believed to be planted by Basque separatists today near the Tour de France route as security was heightened amid separatists’ threats to attack the cycling race.

ETA, which has killed some 800 people in its 28-year fight for independence of northern Spain’s Basque region, has threatened to attack the Tour de France unless unspecified changes are made to its stages.

Under pressure from ETA, tour organizers are including Basque as one of the languages used when the race comes to northern Spain on Wednesday and Thursday.

Police said they carried out a controlled explosion of a small homemade bomb planted in a trash container on the outskirts of Pamplona, a Spanish city along the tour route. There were no injuries.

Interior Minister Jaime Mayor Oreja appealed for ``an atmosphere of unity and serenity″ amid ETA’s threats, which he called ``a propaganda campaign.″

However, the threats are being taken seriously. The Interior Ministry has dispatched hundreds of police along the tour route, the Madrid daily El Pais reported.

Tour officials are taking no additional measures when the race comes to Spain.

``We are doing nothing special about ETA,″ tour spokesman John Lelangue said late Monday. ``We don’t have some sort of terrorist squad. The security is the same as any other stage.″

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