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Spain bombing ahead of Basque poll

The blast comes five days after the murder of Abad (above)
The blast comes five days after the murder of Abad (above)  

MADRID, Spain -- Three people have been injured in a car bomb explosion in central Madrid.

The explosion came late on Friday just two days before regional elections in Spain's Basque region.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the area that has been plagued by years of violence carried out by the separatist group ETA.

The blast occurred in Calle Goya, an up-market shopping area in the centre of the city, just before midnight (2200 GMT) on Friday.

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graphic Basque conflict: Violence in Spain


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Further details about the blast were not immediately known.

Police immediately cordoned off the area, which was heavily damaged.

National radio said one of the injured was a security guard who may have been buried in rubble.

Last Sunday, a suspected ETA gunman shot and killed a Popular Party senator in the nearby Aragon capital of Zaragoza, the 30th slaying since ETA ended a 14-month cease-fire in December 1999.

The following day, more than 300,000 people gathered to protest the killing of Manuel Gimenez Abad, 52, president of the local chapter of the ruling centre-right Popular Party.

Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and other Spanish politicians led the procession through Zaragoza, capital of the northeast Aragon region.

They were joined by Abad's widow Ana Larraz and their two teenage children.

Demonstrators marched holding a banner that read, "For freedom, against terrorism."

"We will defeat them with the rule of law," said Javier Arenas, president the national Popular Party.

"Basques have got to go and vote on May 13 and tell ETA that they are not wanted, that they have to disappear," said Carlos Iturgaiz, PP president in the Basque region.

ETA has killed more than 800 people in its 33-year-old campaign for Basque independence.



RELATED STORIES:
Basque voters urged to reject ETA
May 7, 2001
Killing prompts Spanish rallies
May 7, 2001
French fear Basque campaign
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ETA claims 15 attacks
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ETA threatens tourists
March 30, 2001
Basque election race begins
April 27, 2001
Basque rally against violence
April 21, 2001
Bishops plan ETA exclusion
April 10, 2001

RELATED SITES:
Socialist Party
Basque Nationalist Party
Humanist Party of the Basque Country
Popular Party

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