Three terrorists believed to be Armenians pumped bullets into the windshield of the Turkish ambassador's limousine at a stoplight yesterday, killing his wife, a relative and the chauffeur, police said.
The ambassador, Zeki Kuneralp, was in the embassy nearby when three young men opened up with pistols on his beige Mercedes.
An anonymous caller to a news agency office said later that the shooting was done by commandos of "The Justice of Armenian Genocide." It was the latest in a series of attacks on Turkish diplomats apparently by terrorists seeking revenge for mass killings of Armenians in Turkey early in this century. The caller said the killings were "justice for Armenians exterminated in Turkey."
The ambassador's wife, Nekla Kuneralp, was dead on arrival at a Madrid hospital. The body of the ambassador's relative, Basir G. Balcioglu, a former Turkish diplomat, was left in the back seat of the car for more than an hour.
The chauffeur killed in the attack was Antionio Torres, 61.
The occupants of the car reportedly were going to visit the Prado museum.
Witnesses said three young men dressed in jeans or overalls fired on the car. Eight empty shells were found nearby, and one bullet broke a window of a nearby building.
Police said the limousine crashed into a parked car during the attack, but it was not clear whether the chauffeur had tried to take evasive action or had lost control when he was shot.
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit expressed sorrow for the attack and said improved security measures for his country's diplomats were being introduced.
Last year a group calling itself the Secret Armenian Liberation Army said it was declaring war on Turkey for the massacres of Armenians during World War I.
Turkey ordered the mass deportation of its Armenian minority, which it considered a security risk, in 1915. More than 1.5 million Armenians were believed killed and many thousands more were left to die of starvation after being deported to the northern Syrian desert.
Armenian groups took responsibility for the killing of the Turkish ambassador to the Vatican last June and the ambassadors to France and Austria in October, 1975.
The same group that took responsibility for yesterday's attack, took responsibility for the assassination of the first secretary of the Turkish Embassy in Beirut in 1976.
The consul general in Los Angeles and his chief aide were killed in 1973, and an Armenian resident of California was convicted of the crime.
Spain's security director, Mariano Nicolas, said a hunt for the killers had been ordered in Madrid.
Spanish King Juan Carlos sent a message to Turkish President Fahri Koruturk deploring "the criminal attack."
In Istanbul, leaders of the Armenian community condemned the attack as senseless.