ETA claims car bombing but says cease-fire stands
MADRID, Spain – The Basque separatist group ETA said Tuesday a cease-fire it declared in March still stands, even as it claimed responsibility for a Dec. 30 car bombing that killed two people in Madrid.ETA made its assertion in a statement sent to the pro-independence newspaper Gara, which often serves as a mouthpiece for ETA communiques.It said it did not mean to cause casualties in the attack, and accused the government of failing to evacuate the parking garage that was targeted at Madrid airport despite three warning calls pointing out where the car bomb was parked. The airport was largely evacuated, but the two people killed happened to be asleep in parked cars.Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said he had not immediately read the ETA statement, but his initial impression was that “ETA has only one path left to take, which is to end the violence.”ETA blamed the Spanish government and the ruling Socialist party for “placing obstacles endlessly in the democratic process,” Gara said in a summary of what it called a long Basque-language statement.ETA and its political supporters had been warning in recent months that continued arrests and trials of suspected members were endangering the peace process launched with its announcement March 22 of a “permanent” cease-fire. It had been demanding, and the government refusing, the transfer of ETA prisoners from jails around Spain to prisons in the Basque region.It reiterated a claim that the government was not keeping unspecified promises as part of the process that began with the truce.Gara said ETA wants to promote the peace process but reserves the right respond if what it calls government aggression against the pro-independence movement continues.ETA insisted progress must come from a political agreement that includes “the minimum democratic rights owed to the Basque country,” an apparent allusion to Basques long-standing demands to be able to decide between independence and remaining part of Spain.It called on the government to halt “police formulas and failed policies that lead nowhere,” said Gara, which did not publish a full text of the ETA statement.The explosion destroyed a five-story parking garage at Madrid airport, killing two Ecuadorean immigrants and injuring 26 people.Spain’s government responded to the bombing by scrapping plans for negotiations with ETA and declaring the once-promising peace process terminated.Until now, ETA had not claimed responsibility for the bombing but a caller warning of the blast said he represented the group.ETA’s political wing, Batasuna, has said it was caught off guard by the explosion, suggesting a rift between the two camps, and on Monday it urged ETA to maintain the cease-fire.
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