Spanish soldier wounded in Basque shooting

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MADRID, Oct 16 (Reuters) A Spanish soldier was shot and wounded in San Sebastian, police said, one week after a car bomb in the nearby Basque city of Bilbao injured the bodyguard of a local politician.

A police spokesman could not confirm whether the shooting, near an army barracks at around 10 p m (0130 IST), was an accident or an attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for any attack, however politicians and media said they feared the shooting was the work of the armed Basque separatists ETA, who the regional Basque government also blamed for last Tuesday's car bombing.

''We have received notice of a wounded soldier, who appears to have been shot. We can't confirm if this is an attack. We are investigating,'' the spokesman said.

He added that the soldier appeared to have been shot in the back. Medical sources said a 28-year-old was admitted to a city hospital at 10.45pm with a bullet wound that had hit his left shoulder.

A local spokesman for the Socialist party said it appeared the soldier's life was not in danger, adding: ''We have to be prudent and wait to see if it is definitely confirmed that it is an attack''.

In addition to the car bombing, ETA have also been blamed for an armed raid on a French factory last week in which 2,000 litres of a chemical used in explosives was stolen.

All three incidents have come within days of the arrest of top leaders from radical party Batasuna, banned because of links to ETA, that the group described as ''a declaration of war''.

ETA has killed more than 800 people in four decades of armed struggle. It has carried out several attempted attacks since calling off a ceasefire in June but no one has died since two people were killed by a car bomb at Madrid airport in December.

REUTERS CS BST0515

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