A rally in San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque Country ended in violence after riot police barred the way to a sports stadium where demonstrators had been banned from congregating. The crowd of several thousand was demanding the release of jailed Basque separatists.
But the protest had been outlawed by local authorities. Police fired rubber bullets and used truncheons as clashes broke out and cars were set on fire. The rally comes a week after a bomb attack in a Madrid Airport car park claimed two lives. The Spanish government blames ETA for the attack, although the Basque separatist militants have not officially claimed responsibility. At his annual address to the armed forces yesterday, Spain’s King Juan Carlos insisted the country would defeat “terrorist barbarities” by democratic means.
Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is expected to outline a new strategy for resolving the Basque problem next week. Even before the recovery of the body of the second victim of the airport bombing, the government had admitted current peace negotiations were effectively at an end. They had begun in March last year when ETA declared a permanent truce.