Bombs Explode in Madrid Pumping Stations

Bombs explode in five pumping stations of Madrid

Bombs exploded Friday in five pumping stations of Madrid, leaving no victims, but causing material damage, said the Spanish Interior Ministry. The attacks occurred at 18:30 hours, local time and responsibility was claimed by separatist organization Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA). These service stations had been evacuated beforehand, after an anonymous phone call on behalf of ETA, warned Basque daily Gara, on the imminent explosions.

The al Qaeda-sponsored train bombings that helped defeat the Aznar government and get Spain out of Iraq were initially blamed on ETA. I tend to think that this is the real McCoy, however, given the prior notification to minimize casualties. Al Qaeda’s style has long been mass murder for maximum effect.

Update (1845): Reuters has more detail:

ETA Seals Off Madrid with 5 Bombs, 2 Police Hurt

The Basque separatist group ETA set off five bombs at petrol stations around Madrid on Friday in its most serious attack in months, putting a stranglehold on the capital at the start of a long holiday weekend. Two police officers were slightly wounded by one of the bombs, detonated simultaneously alongside main highways surrounding Madrid. The bombs forced police to halt traffic temporarily, causing chaos as hundreds of thousands of people tried to get out of the city for the holiday.

The attacks marked a resurgence of ETA violence after months of relative inactivity. The group has been severely weakened by a police crackdown that has netted more than 100 suspects this year and it has staged only small-scale bombings. The explosions during the evening rush hour gave the city its biggest scare since Islamic militants killed 191 people with coordinated attacks on four commuter trains on March 11.

Friday’s bombs, hidden in places like garbage containers, dashed hopes of Christmas truce after the guerrillas and their closest political allies called for peace talks with the government — offers rejected by the mainstream political class. “They want to send a message of ‘Here we are. We wanted to talk’,” said Gorka Knorr, a senior Basque politician.

The blasts forced police to seal off major highways leading in five directions from the capital amid a massive exodus for a long weekend with bank holidays on Monday and Wednesday. Traffic gradually crawled back to normal while bomb squads and emergency services stood by in case they were needed.

ETA warned of the bombs in a telephone call to the Basque newspaper Gara, a method it regularly uses to announce impending attacks. The warning gave police time to clear the areas.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.