Spain is nervously approaching its October 12 national holiday and traditional military parade in Madrid attended by the royal family and leading politicians and celebrities, following a car bomb attack in Bilbao.
The explosion seriously injured the bodyguard of a local Basque Socialist politician. The attack bears the hallmarks of the Basque terrorist group ETA, although no-one has yet claimed responsibility for the explosion.
If ETA does claim responsibility, it will be its second serious attack since calling off a ceasefire in June.
Now all eyes are switching to the capital. Spanish security forces were already on high alert nationwide for Friday’s national holiday, and in Madrid all police leave has been cancelled and extra forces are being drafted in to lock down the capital to prevent any attack taking place.
Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said:
“As October 12th is such a big day we have intensified our security measures throughout Spain, and especially in Madrid”.
On Thursday the Spanish government increased its pressure on Basque militants by arresting and holding in custody 17 top members of Batasuna, the outlawed Basque political party linked to ETA, who had gathered for a secret meeting.
The Socialist government is struggling to deflect opposition claims it is soft on ETA and Basque extremists ahead of next March’s general election.