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Spaniards protest at latest deaths

A service was held for Uribe in a local police station
A service was held for Uribe in the local police station  

MADRID, Spain -- Spaniards have held silent protests following two killings blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA.

The body of Jose Javier Mugica Astibia, a 58-year-old conservative town councillor, was cremated on Sunday.

He was killed on Saturday when a bomb planted under his van exploded in the northern Spanish region of Navarre as he was about to drive to a wedding.

Meanwhile, mourners held a wake for policeman Mikel Uribe, 44, on Sunday. He had been shot hours after Astibia's death.

Hundreds of Spaniards gathered outside city and town halls in silent protest at the killings, and rallies were held at noon in the Basque capital Vitoria, the northern city of Zaragoza, and other cities around Spain.

Several hundred people stood in the rain in the central plaza of the Navarre regional capital Pamplona.

Civil guards inspect the remains of Mugica's vehicle  

More protests were scheduled for Monday.

The attacks were condemned by the government.

"Basque society must show ETA its condemnation and demand an end to this madness," Basque government spokesman Jon Imaz said.

The attacks were widely seen as a defiant message to Basque President Juan Jose Ibarretxe, a moderate who was sworn in for a new term on Saturday with a pledge to fight ETA, Associated Press reported.

The group rarely commits two attacks in one day.

There was no word from ETA -- the group usually takes weeks to claim responsibility and often does so in messages sent to a pro-independence Basque newspaper.

"ETA bathes Ibarretxe's swearing-in with the blood of two killings," the national daily El Mundo said in a front-page headline,

ETA, which wants an independent Basque homeland in land straddling northern Spain and southwest France, has killed about 800 people since its campaign began in 1968.

The killings Saturday were the 10th and 11th this year. ETA has claimed or been blamed for 34 deaths since it ended a 14-month cease-fire in January 2000.

• Spanish Government (in Spanish)
• Basque Country Government
• Navarra Government

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