Two bombs explode on Spain’s South coast


MADRID – Two bombs exploded Sunday on the south coast of Spain, and police located a third, in the latest apparent terrorist attack on the country’s popular tourism region.

The first bomb exploded on Gualdalmar beach in Malaga around 1:00 p.m. (1100 GMT) causing no damage, local officials said.

The second blast occurred around 3:00 p.m (1300 GMT) at Benalmadena marina, near Malaga, they added.

Both bombs were of a ‘weak strength,’ local officials said, later stating that police found a third bomb on the A7 motorway, near Malaga.

On Sunday morning, authorities in Benalmadena received an anonymous tip-off that the armed Basque separatist group ETA had planted three bombs in the area, according to local officials.

Between 8,000 and 10,000 people were evacuated, the Internet site for El Mundo daily reported. Meanwhile, police also closed off a section of the main road between Malaga and Torremolinos to look for the third bomb, causing major traffic jams, Europa Press agency said.

The blasts are the second such attacks on Spain’s popular summer holiday destination, the Costa del Sol, in the last three weeks.

On July 28, a bomb exploded on the beach in Torremolinos without claiming any victims.

The finger of blame was pointed at ETA, but the group has not claimed any involvement in the blast.

ETA said Saturday it was responsible for four bombs that went off near a beach in Laredo and in Noja, in Cantabria, in the north of Spain on July 20, but it did not mention the explosion in Torremolinos.

Spain’s Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba blamed ETA for the bomb attack in Torremolinos, but he added that he did not think this meant the outfit had a ‘stable structure’ in the southern Andalucia region.

ETA, which is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States, is blamed for the deaths of 823 people in its 40-year campaign of bombings and shootings for an independent Basque homeland.

The group regularly targets its attacks on Spain’s tourism industry, which is an important source of the country’s revenue.

Spain is the second-most visited country in the world after France, according to a 2007 report by the World Tourism Organisation.

ETA, which has killed four people since it called off its ceasefire in June 2007, has often concentrated its campaign on the Mediterranean coast.

In 2002, a booby-trapped car bomb killed two people, including a six-year-old child, in the seaside resort of Santa Pola, near Valencia on the eastern Mediterranean coast.

Since the group ended its ceasefire — which lasted between March 2006 and June 2007 — it has suffered the loss of a number of key members, including its suspected leader Francisco Javier Lopez Pena (alias ‘Thierry’) who was arrested in France in May.