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Car bomb injures 46 at Spain barracks

MADRID (Reuters) - A car bomb exploded outside a Civil Guard barracks in the northern Spanish city of Burgos on Wednesday, injuring 46 people, including children, in an attack authorities blamed on Basque separatist rebels ETA.

The blast at around 4 a.m. ripped away most of the outer wall of the multi-storey barracks in of the biggest attacks for some time by ETA, whose ranks have been decimated by arrests.

“They’re murderous, savage and crazy, which does not make them stronger but doubtlessly makes them more dangerous,” Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told a news conference in Burgos after visiting the ruined barracks.

ETA is held responsible for killing more than 800 people in the past 40 years in a campaign to carve out an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southern France. It typically uses shootings and car bombs, often targeted at police and army barracks.

Most of the injured, who included children, suffered cuts and bruises and although no one was in serious condition, 38 had been transferred to hospital in the historic cathedral town, the spokesman said.

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The car packed with explosives had been parked outside the barracks, home to members of Spain’s paramilitary police force and their families.

“There were almost 120 people asleep in their apartments that night, including 41 children,” Rubalcaba said.

“This was a horrendous attack which wasn’t aimed just at the Civil Guard ... but at their families, which makes it especially wicked,” he said.

Authorities say ETA is under pressure to show it can still mount attacks despite having been weakened by a series of arrests including that of its suspected top commander, Jurdan Martitegi, in April. His capture brought to four the number of commanders caught in less than a year.

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Polls indicate most Basques in Spain would favour some sort of independence, although support for ETA violence is confined to a diminishing minority.

The most recent killing blamed on the group was on June 19, when a police inspector died in a booby-trapped car in the northern city of Bilbao.

Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialist government broke off peace talks with ETA after the rebels killed two people with a car bomb at Madrid airport in December 2006.

Eighteen more suspected ETA members were captured in a three-week period in June and July.