Basque separatist group ETA clearly intended to cause casualties in a bomb attack it planned this week, Spain’s interior minister said today.
The attack was thwarted when authorities in France intercepted a van packed with explosives.
Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said the group was planning to stage the attack sometime during Spain’s state of the nation parliamentary debate yesterday and today. The location and target of the planned bombing were unknown, he said.
ETA, which has killed more than 800 people since 1968, called off a 15-month cease-fire on June 5 and indicated it would resume attacks.
Police in south-eastern France seized the van packed with 140 kilos of chloratite-based explosives and detained three suspected Eta members on Monday.
“Chloratite is an explosive with a short life span. The vehicle was ready to be exploded immediately, yesterday or this morning,” Rubalcaba said.
“It’s pretty obvious they aimed to cause casualties,” he said.
Perez Rubalcaba said two detonators were found, though authorities believe only one bomb was planned.
Rubalcaba added that ETA had planned to activate the bomb manually to get around equipment that can jam signals from mobile phones and other electronic devices commonly used in detonating bombs.
“All we can do is thank the security forces for having averted a certain attack,” Rubalcaba said. “One assumes it would have been in Spain, and with victims.”
On June 21, police found a car, loaded with 100 kilos of explosives, in south-western Spain, near the Portuguese border.
ETA, a Basque-language acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom, has been waging a campaign for an independent Basque state.
The group killed two Ecuadoreans in a car bomb attack in Madrid last December, but insisted at the time that its cease-fire was still on.