There was violence in Spain’s Basque Country last night as riot police fought pitched battles with separatist supporters. Police fired rubber bullets and used truncheons as some demonstrators set fire to cars. Thousands had taken to the streets to demand the release of ETA prisoners.
But the protest at a football stadium had been outlawed by Spain’s high court. The clash, which took place in San Sebastian, comes a week after two people were killed in a bomb attack at Madrid airport. At his annual address to the armed forces yesterday, Spain’s King Juan Carlos insisted the country would use democratic means to defeat what he described as “terrorist barbarities”.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is expected to outline a new strategy for resolving the Basque problem next week. The Spanish government blames ETA for the attack, although the Basque separatist militants haven’t officially claimed responsibility. However the government says the current peace negotiations have effectively ended.