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Friday, August 8, 2008


The sand has long settled in Torremolinos after last week’s small explosion that did little more than create a load bang just after midnight on Tuesday under a bridge beneath the prom.

However Spain is still on high alert as it is feared that despite the recent arrests of its ‘Vizcaya’ commando the Basque terror group ETA may still be planning an outrage for this summer. Andalucía is a possible target but strong warnings have been issued in the Basque region itself.

Last Tuesday’s mini-bomb, which is presumed to be the work of ETA, is the latest in a 30-year campaign against the Costa del Sol. ETA first made its presence felt in 1979 with two bombs. The first was in Marbella and the second at a hotel in Fuengirola with resulting injuries to tourists.

The 80s saw a series of attacks largely aimed at hotels. Targets included the Don Pepe and Don Carlos in Marbella, the Málaga Palacio and the Cervantes in Torremolinos. However the first major ETA outrage in that decade was in Málaga at the old provincial prison where a car bomb injured seven people.

A period of peace then ensued till the summer of 1996 when small bombs went off at the Malagueta beach, the ‘Baños del Carmen’ and La Rosaleda. The following year ETA attempted to strike with deadly precision by assassinating the former mayor of Rincón de la Victoria, José María Gómez, and the councillor Francisco Robles, by placing bombs beneath their respective vehicles. Mercifully a neighbour alerted the police after spotting the objects below their cars. In the same year there was a failed attempt to donate a car bomb with the target being Málaga’s then mayor, Celia Villalobos.

The campaign against politicians had been largely aimed at members of the Partido Popular which was then the party of the national government. The terrorist finally succeeded on June 15 2000 when PP councillor José María Martín Carpena was shot in the presence of his wife and daughter in the entrance to his home in Málaga. Four days later socialist José Asenjo escaped but a bomb burnt out his car.

In July 2001 a car bomb with 50 kilos of explosive was discovered at Málaga’s airport. The following year there were further bombs at the Hotel Las Pirámedes in Fuengirola, Sultán in Marbella and Tamisa Golf in Mijas. Prior to the small bomb last week in Torremolinos there was another explosion of low intensity in Malaga’s Paseo del Parque in December 2004.

The bombs on the coast have largely been aimed at scaring tourists away rather than causing death and destruction. As I write this it seems that ETA is exporting its scare campaign as French police have today dismantled three bombs in the tourist area of its own Basque region. The problem with this tactic is that terrorism and the world has moved on. British tourists for example are not going to abandon going to France or Spain because of the bombs or threats as they face similar outrages at home. They know the security forces are on alert to prevent any attacks. The message from visitors is very simple – we’ll come, we’ll relax but we´ll keep an eye open for suspicious activity just as we would at home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right on! I am a New Yorker, was there on 7/11 and am happily enjoying my tour of Spain including the Basque region - terrorists or no terrorists! Dean & crew.