Urban terrorists today staged almost simultaneous attacks in three Spanish cities killing two businessmen and severely injuring a third person. Police later killed one gunman and wounded a second, both identified as members of a far-left political group.
The shootings brought once more into the limelight a shadowy militant Marxist group that calls itself GRAPO, an acronym in Spanish for First of October Antifascist Resistance Groups. It has been carrying out a sporadic urban guerrilla campaign in Spain for nearly a decade.
During the morning the president of a businessmen's association was shot dead in Seville and the chief executive of a Madrid construction firm was killed in the capital. The terrorists also struck in La Coruna, in northwestern Spain, wounding the chief engineer of the state-owned radio and television facilities in that city.
Police in La Coruna cornered the gunmen soon after their attack and shot one dead and injured a second. Both were identified as GRAPO members and police sources speculated that the attacks were timed by the terrorists to take place on the third anniversary of the death of a GRAPO leader three years ago in Barcelona during a gunbattle with security forces.
In the past the Spanish police have claimed to have wiped out GRAPO, which on occasions collaborated with the better known Basque separatist gunmen belonging to a group called ETA (Basque Homeland and Liberty). But despite numerous arrests and the deaths of several of their leaders in shoot-outs with police, GRAPO militants have consistently managed to regroup and renew their attacks.
Today's attacks caused widespread shock in Spain, particularly because none of the victims was prominent in public life, especially wealthy or known as an extreme right-winger, characteristics that have typified past targets of urban terrorism. Each of the three attacks was carried out by two gunmen who fired on their victims at close range.
The Seville businessman, Rafael Padura, was shot in a bookshop that he owned after the gunmen broke in and ordered employes to take cover. Miguel Angel de la Quintana, executive director of the construction firm Urbis was shot as he drove to work in central Madrid. Witnesses said a woman shot de la Quintana in the head at close range after he had fallen to the ground, apparently wounded in the initial attack.
Earlier, in the first attack of the day, Luis Pardo of the local state-owned television and radio network was injured as he was being driven to the studios. The driver said the gunmen identified themselves as GRAPO members before firing. Two men, said to be the gunmen, were later cornered by police.
The shootings came at a time of increasing optimism among officials that the more deadly Basque separatist terrorism of the ETA group was being contained.
The coordinated GRAPO attacks indicated that political terrorism in Spain has several fronts. Today's shooting brought the death toll in Spanish political violence to 35 so far this year against a total of 46 in 1983.