Two car bombs exploded today at popular resorts on Spain’s Costa del Sol, injuring four British tourists, one seriously.
A 33-year-old Briton was rushed to hospital with a severe chest wound after he crossed a police cordon set up moments before the first blast in Fuengirola.
Six hours later, another large explosion went off in nearby Marbella.
Witnesses said a giant cloud of smoke rose above the site of the blast on one of the resort’s main boulevards.
Local radio reported no injuries, after authorities apparently received a second telephone warning and were able to clear the area.
The attacks were blamed on the Basque separatist terrorist group Eta who had warned they would carry out a Costa bombing campaign during the EU summit which opened in Seville today.
The attacks came as EU leaders, including Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, met at a heavily guarded convention centre about 90 miles away.
Four Britons, including two children and the 33-year-old man who was in a critical condition, were hurt in the Fuengirola blast.
A Spanish woman and a Moroccan were also hurt, an official said.
The explosion went off outside the Hotel Las Piramides hotel, which is popular with British and German holidaymakers.
Officers attempted to seal off the area following a telephone warning from an Eta member in the Basque city of San Sebastian.
The caller said a car bomb would explode in Fuengirola at 7am (6am Irish time).
The grey Peugeot 205 was loaded with 65 lbs of explosives, police said.
The second car bomb exploded at around 1pm (12pm Irish time) on a central boulevard in Marbella. A Spanish reporter on the scene said a giant cloud of smoke rose towards the sky from the area.
An office building near Arturo Rubinstein boulevard had been evacuated moments before the explosion, following a telephoned warning to emergency services in the northern Basque region, local reports said.
The bombings came only a week after police found 288 lbs of dynamite and other explosives, with boxes of detonators and wiring, in woods near Valencia.
The Spanish government said that detained members of an Eta cell had planned to use it to attack tourist targets and ‘‘create a sense of chaos’’ during the meeting of 15 EU leaders in Seville.
However, one suspect had fled the arrest raid two days earlier in Valencia.
Car bombings are frequently carried out by Eta, which is classified as a terrorist organisation by Spain, the EU and the US.
Eta, whose name is a Basque-language acronym standing for Basque Homeland and Freedom, has been fighting since the late 1960s to carve an independent state out of lands between northern Spain and southwest France.
Eta’s violent campaign has killed more than 800 people.
In May, Spanish authorities claimed they had thwarted a major terrorist attack by Eta during a summit of Latin American and European leaders after discovering a stash of explosives in Madrid.
That summit took place without violent incidents.