No injuries but fears of a new bombing campaing

A car bomb ripped through an underground car park in the northern Spanish city of Santander yesterday, minutes after a newspaper received a telephoned warning in the name of outlawed Basque separatist group ETA. The car park where the bomb exploded was in a busy central district of Santander, close to government offices and a branch of the Bank of Spain. Police said the telephoned warning gave them time to evacuate the car park and no one was believed to have been hurt. But Jose Joaquin Martinez Sieso, president of the regional government of Cantabria which has Santander as its capital, said it was too early to be certain because police had not yet been able to make a detailed inspection of the car park. There was no information on the extent of damage inside the car park, he told Spanish state radio. A reporter on the scene told the radio that smoke was still pouring from the car park's ventilation shafts. The area was cordoned off and police were proceeding carefully because of fears there could be a second car bomb. Basque nationalist newspaper Gara received a telephoned warning shortly before the explosion from a person claiming to represent ETA. The warning was passed to Santander police. “We were warned at 3:30 p.m. (1430 GMT) that there would be an explosion in this garage at 3:50 p.m. ... (The explosion) was extremely punctual,” a local police spokesman told Reuters. A phone call to Gara is a method typically used by ETA to warn of its attacks. ETA has killed more than 800 people since 1968 to press its demands for an independent state in Basque areas of northern Spain and southwestern France. ETA, listed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States, has claimed responsibility for 42 killings since January 2000, when it resumed violence after a year-and-a-half ceasefire. Yesterday's explosion was the second suspected ETA bomb this year to explode in Santander. A policeman was slightly hurt in a blast there on June 22, one of a spate of bombings that coincided with a meeting of European Union leaders in Seville. ETA's last fatal attack was in September when it killed a Civil Guard policeman with a booby-trapped bomb in northern Spain. Police have arrested more than 100 ETA suspects in Europe this year, mostly in Spain and France.

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