July 23, 2005

Galacian separatists set off bomb in Santiago de Compostela

Spain blames Galician radicals for bomb (link)
By Adrian Croft

Spain blamed radical groups seeking the independence of the Galicia region for a bomb that exploded in the busy pilgrimage center of Santiago de Compostela on Saturday, causing minor damage but no injuries.

Police arrested two people they believe planted the bomb that exploded outside the main office of regional savings bank Caixa Galicia, officials said.

"The police link those responsible with radical independence groups," a government statement said.

City officials said police were prepared for a possible attack by Galician radicals two days before the northwestern region celebrates Galicia day, an annual regional holiday.

"It's not a surprise, because we feared it. We thought this could happen and that it could come from where it's come from. Great precautions had been taken and the police acted immediately," the mayor of Santiago de Compostela, Jose Antonio Sanchez Bugallo, told Cadena Ser radio.

The government statement said police had recently stepped up surveillance of people linked to groups suspected of violence.

"This operation made possible the detection of two suspicious people, so the National Police immediately cordoned off the area," the statement said.

Police quickly swooped on the two people they suspected of planting the bomb, it said.

Santiago is the capital of Galicia, a green and rugged fishing region which has its own regional government and language. Some Galicians want more autonomy from Madrid.

Although not as well known as Basque separatist guerrillas ETA, shadowy Galician radical groups sometimes use violence to promote their cause.

In 2003, a series of home-made bombs blamed on pro-independence radicals exploded outside offices of the then-ruling Popular Party in Galicia and an office of the Galician regional government.


Galicia is currently undergoing a political shake-up.

Manuel Fraga, 82, a former minister under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, has ruled Galicia for 16 years. But his center-right Popular Party lost its majority in a June regional election.

The bomb exploded hours after the Socialists -- who govern in Madrid -- and moderate Galician nationalists signed an agreement to form a coalition to rule the region.

Socialist Emilio Perez Tourino is due take over as regional leader on August 2.

ETA has also struck in Galicia in the past. It planted a bomb in Santiago de Compostela in August last year as part of a summer bombing campaign aimed at undermining Spain's important tourism sector.

Santiago de Compostela, a scenic medieval town, attracts tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims every year to what is traditionally believed to be the burial place of the Apostle St. James. (Additional reporting by Raquel Castillo, Andres Jimenez)

Posted by Kyer at July 23, 2005 04:19 PM | TrackBack