Spanish Police Find More Explosives

The Associated Press
Friday, January 5, 2007; 2:04 PM

MADRID, Spain -- Police found new caches of explosives in the Basque region Friday, nearly a week after a massive car bomb at Madrid's international airport killed two people and ended a nine-month cease-fire that separatist group ETA had said would be permanent.

Police said they had recovered 130 pounds of explosives inside a backpack, as well as bomb-making manuals, in the valley of Atxondo near the Basque towns of Amorebieta and Durango. Police found 44 pounds of ammonium nitrate, detonators and timers in a small hole underground during a search of the area earlier Friday.

On Thursday, authorities discovered 220 pounds of explosives in the area that they said were ready for immediate use, lacking only a detonator.

ETA has not claimed responsibility for the airport blast Dec. 30, but a man who made a warning call to authorities before the explosion said he represented the group.

The governing Socialist party acknowledged Friday the bombing betrayed the government's lack of communication with the Basque militant group, despite the cease-fire that had raised hopes of an end to four decades of separatist violence.

"We have to recognize that there was a problem of information and no dialogue," senior Socialist party official Jose Blanco told radio station Cadena Ser. "We have to analyze what happened to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future," he added.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had announced in June that he believed the truce was sincere and said he would negotiate with ETA _ although he ruled out concessions toward Basque independence.

However, those talks never got off the ground.

The government has rejected demands from ETA and its political wing, Batasuna, for preliminary gestures such as moving some ETA prisoners to the Basque region and allowing separate talks among Basque political parties on the region's future. ETA also has criticized the government for refusing to let up on the movement, citing the continued arrests of suspected ETA members.

ETA's fight for an independent Basque state has killed more than 800 people since the 1960s, but the Dec. 30 blast was the Basque separatist group's first fatal attack in more than three years.

Also Friday, firefighters spotted remains believed to be those of Diego Armando Estacio, 19, a second man missing since the Madrid airport bombing. Estacio, from Ecuador, was believed to have been sleeping in a car in the multistory parking garage.

Another Ecuadorean, Carlos Alonso Palate, 35, who was at the airport separately and also sleeping in a parked car, was found Wednesday in the debris.

Zapatero has said the attack made him more determined than ever to end ETA's campaign of violence, but announced no new strategy.

© 2007 The Associated Press