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Bomb explodes in northern Spain after ETA warning

Written by: Staff

MADRID, Feb 22 (Reuters) A bomb exploded outside a can-making company in Spain's Basque Country today, causing damage but no injuries, after a warning from armed separatist group ETA, police said.

Police cordoned off part of an industrial estate in Bolueta, near the Basque city of Bilbao, after a Basque newspaper received a telephoned warning that a bomb had been placed there.

Police spotted a suspicious rucksack and called in explosives experts.

Soon afterwards the bomb exploded, causing extensive damage but no injuries, Basque police said. The bomb was estimated to contain between 5 and 7 kgs (11 and 15 lbs) of explosive, a police spokeswoman said.

State radio said the rucksack had been left outside a can manufacturing company and clearly bore the words ''Danger bomb'' on it. The bomb alert forced the temporary closure of a nearby highway and metro line, it said.

Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso and the Basque regional government condemned the attack.

The Basque government said ETA's goal was to spread fear as part of a campaign of extortion of businesses. It demanded that ETA abandon violence.

ETA regularly attacks businesses in an attempt to force them to pay a ''revolutionary tax'' with which it funds itself.

ETA set off bombs outside a construction company in the Basque Country and a night club in Navarre last week, dampening media speculation that it may be about to call a ceasefire. Both bombs caused damage but no injuries.

ETA issued a statement last weekend calling for political change in Spain's Basque country but it also failed to mention the much-rumoured ceasefire.

Branded a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, ETA has killed some 850 people since 1968 in a campaign for an independent state carved out of northern Spain and southwestern France.

Reuters PDS VP0158

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