Inteligencia y Seguridad Frente Externo En Profundidad Economia y Finanzas Transparencia
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Inteligencia y Seguridad  
 

Significance: A bomb exploded yesterday on the Spanish island of Majorca, killing two police officers.

Implications: This second car bomb in as many days in Spain has raised fears of an escalation in ETA-related violence as the terrorist group marks its 50th anniversary today.

Outlook: The Spanish authorities are on maximum alert, but the bombings have shown their relative impotence to prevent deadly attacks despite the recent clampdown on the political and military leadership of the terrorist group.

01/08/2009 | ETA Marks Fiftieth Anniversary with Escalation of Violence in Spain

Global Insight Staff

An apparent escalation of violence by ETA in the run-up to its 50th anniversary seems to be an attempt by the terrorist group to flex its muscles following a series of arrests and waning support in the Basque country, but the attacks carry a faint aroma of desperation.

 

IHS Global Insight Perspective 

 

The Spanish authorities have been put on high alert following the detonation of a bomb yesterday on the holiday island of Majorca, which killed two police officers. The island's police were quick to react to the attack, temporarily shutting down all ports of entry and exit on the island, including airports, as they searched for suspects. A second bomb was disarmed near the original explosion site. The two police officers killed in the blast were Diego Salva Lezaun and Carlos Sáenz de Tejada Garcia—both members of the island's rural police force who were seemingly simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although terrorist group ETA, which has waged a violent 50-year campaign for the independence of the Basque country, killing over 825 people in the process, has not claimed responsibility for the attack, blame has been laid squarely on the organisation. Majorca central government representative Ramon Sacias, as well as Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, have both blamed ETA for the attack. Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero paid tribute to the killed officers and described the killings as "vile". It seems that ETA this time broke with its established tradition of warning emergency services before detonating the bomb.

Outlook and Implications

This is the second ETA blast in as many days; however, the Majorca explosion has garnered considerably more attention since it caused the death of two police officers, seemingly confirmed fears of an escalation in violence ahead of ETA's 50-year anniversary today, and led to the complete shutdown of the island at the height of the (already sluggish) tourist season. Furthermore, the attack came just days before Spanish King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were due to arrive on the island, further raising anxiety among the police authorities. The previous day's attack outside a police barracks in the northern Spanish city of Burgos, while causing over 60 injuries and millions of euro in damage, did not result in any fatalities. However, the cumulative impact of the attacks has served its purpose in that it has indicated that ETA's ability to detonate bombs has not been affected by the government's clampdown on the group and arrest of its main political and military leaders.

ETA seems to be increasingly desperate to demonstrate that its cause for an independent Basque is still relevant and to prove that it has not been undermined by the intense security and political clampdown. This sense of desperation has been hieightened by the increasing erosion of the group's political power base following the suspension of its political wing, Batasuna, in 2003, as well as the repeated banning of smaller regional parties associated with the group in both 2008 and early 2009. Furthermore, local elections in March saw the ousting from power of the pro-independence Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) in the Basque country for the first time in three decades, indicating waning popular support for ETA's cause. Ultimately, it does not take much effort to launch the types of attacks seen in recent days and they have done nothing to demonstrate that ETA's logistical capabilities have been untouched by the series of high-profile arrests.

It is important to note that despite the heightened security threat at present, ETA does not pose a significant danger to international investors in Spain. The terrorist group has traditionally targeted security personnel, occasionally branching out to attack Basque businesses with close links to central government and media outlets deemed unsympathetic to their cause. If anything, the escalation in violence has served only to strengthen Prime Minister Zapatero's determination to tighten the noose around ETA.

Global Insight (Reino Unido)

 


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