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Police attacked in Basque country

Protesters
Protesters demanding Basque political prisoners be transferred to Basque jails  


MADRID, Spain -- Two policemen have been injured in Spain by homemade firebombs thrown at their car by Basque youths, police said.

The regional policemen were surrounded by a group of hooded youths and bombarded with explosives early on Sunday when they drove into the northern town of Portugalete, in the Basque country.

A police spokesman told state radio: "The police were received with stones and Molotov cocktails, some made with acid," Reuters reported.

The police car was completely burned, the spokesman added.

One of the policeman suffered serious burns, the news agency said.

Hooded gangs linked to radical Basque separatists ETA often stage violent protests at weekends in small towns in the troubled region.

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Authorities consider the youth groups as a training force for ETA, and many go on to become full members of the rebel band, according to Reuters.

Officials have been on alert for possible attacks since July when a 22-year-old member of ETA, Olaya Castresana, blew herself up by accident while handling explosives.

The Interior Ministry said the explosives Castresana was manipulating were to be used in attacks on tourist targets along Spain's popular Mediterranean coast.

A day after Castresana's death, police defused a powerful car bomb parked at the Malaga airport in la Costa del Sol, a region in southern Spain that draws more than one million tourists each year.

On Saturday a pro-ETA demonstration was held in Castresana's honour in the coastal city of San Sebastian and was followed by street violence.

ETA has been fighting since 1968 to carve an independent Basque homeland out of lands straddling northern Spain and southwest France.

The campaign of shootings and bombings has left more than 800 people dead.






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