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Car bomb kills Spanish Basque figure

February 22, 2000
Web posted at: 12:50 p.m. EST (1750 GMT)

VITORIA, Spain (CNN) -- A car bomb exploded in northern Spain on Tuesday, killing a leader of the opposition Socialist Party and his bodyguard.

A senior party official in Madrid said the dead men were provincial party secretary-general Fernando Buesa and the bodyguard assigned to protect Buesa because of the threat of violence from the Basque separatist group ETA.

A CNN reporter who rushed to the scene said Buesa and the other man were walking near a university when the car bomb went off. The explosion sent plumes of thick black smoke into the air above the school campus.

The blast occurred near Buesa's home in Vitoria, the capital of the Basque province Alava. The Alava government is controlled by the Basque Nationalist Party, which supports Basque independence but opposes the ETA's violent methods. Buesa's party supports the current system of broad autonomy for the Basque region, as provided for in the Spanish constitution.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion, but officials suspected the ETA.

The Spanish government has blamed Basque separatists for a blast in Madrid last month that killed an army officer and apparently marked the end of a 14-month truce in the rebels' three-decade fight for an independent Basque homeland. About 800 people have died in the struggle.

The latest attack comes just days before the start of the official campaign for a March 12 general election in which center-right Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has pledged to continue his hard-line stance against Basque separatism.

Reuters contributed to this report.



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CNN En Español:
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Enero 21, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Basque History and Historical Documents
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
Association for Peace in the Basque Country
Euskal Herria Journal | Basque Political Conflict
CIA -- The World Factbook 1999 -- Spain
Spanish Culture - Northern Ireland and The Basque Country - April 12, 1998


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