Car Bomb in Basque Region Kills Politician, Bodyguard

From Associated Press

A car bomb blamed on Basque separatists killed a politician who opposes Basque independence and his bodyguard Tuesday near the seat of the Basque regional government.

The explosion, just 200 yards from the headquarters of the president of the Basque government, killed Fernando Buesa, the leader of the Alava provincial chapter of the Socialist Party, and his 27-year-old bodyguard, Jorge Diez Elorza, authorities said.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack in Vitoria, but Interior Minister Jaime Mayor Oreja blamed the separatist group ETA, which announced an end to a 14-month cease-fire in December. ETA, which stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom, is blamed for a similar bombing that killed one person in Madrid last month.

People in Spain and the Basque region "must understand the macabre lesson ETA is trying to teach us," Mayor Oreja told reporters. He broke off a visit to the eastern town of Benidorm to fly to Vitoria, which is the capital of Alava province and the Basque region.

The Basque Nationalist Party, a moderate grouping that controls the regional government and wants independence but opposes ETA's violent methods, condemned the attack, saying that "horror has again struck our people."

Buesa was reportedly walking with his bodyguard from his house toward the city center shortly after 4:30 p.m. when the bomb exploded on a university campus, police said.

Buesa, 53, was reported to have been on ETA's hit list, according to documents seized by police in recent months, the national news agency Efe reported.

ETA announced Dec. 3 that it was ending its cease-fire, blaming politicians for failing to make progress toward its hoped-for independent Basque state straddling northern Spain and southwestern France.

The organization, which has killed nearly 800 people since 1968, is believed to have resumed its violent campaign with a car bomb blast in Madrid on Jan. 21 that killed an army colonel.

After that attack, hundreds of thousands marched through downtown Madrid in an emotional call for peace.

Although most of its victims have been security force members, in recent years ETA has begun targeting members of Spain's governing Popular Party and of the leading opposition Socialist Workers' Party, to which Buesa belonged.

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