The king of Spain has appealed for unity in the face of terrorism in the wake of last Saturday’s huge bomb blast at Madrid airport. King Juan Carlos made the call during the traditional annual ceremony at the royal palace to pay homage to the country’s armed forces. “Once more, the cruel, evil and despicable acts of terrorists have created new victims,” he said. “Our principles and faith in our state must not be shaken because only solidarity and defence of our values will bring a definitive end to violence,” he added.
Earlier, rescuers recovered the body of a second man from the rubble left by the suspected ETA car bomb. The victim is believed to be a 19-year-old Ecuadorean immigrant. The remains of another Ecuadorean man were found on Wednesday. The deaths of the two Ecuadoreans are the first to be blamed on ETA in more than three years.
The militant Basque separatist group declared a ceasefire nine months ago, but it has never broken a truce before without declaring its intentions first. Nevertheless, the government remains convinced the group was behind the attack. Spain’s Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, insists he is committed to finding a negotiated settlement.
But a senior figure in his Socialist Party has suggested the government may have paid the price for a lack of communication with ETA. Zapatero says he will address parliament in two weeks when more facts are known. Meanwhile, tensions have begun to escalate in the Basque country.
Last night several buildings and banks were attacked – a usual sign of protest in the wake of heightened security alerts. Police are braced for further violence in San Sebastian on Saturday night. One Basque separatist group is holding a meeting calling for an amnesty for political prisoners although its planned rally has been banned.