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July 31, 2009

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Mallorca bomb kills two cops, ETA cited

AN explosion on the Spanish resort island of Mallorca killed two police officers yesterday and authorities blocked all outgoing flights and ships from leaving as part of a manhunt.

The bombing, blamed on Basque separatist group ETA, targeted a police vehicle. It was the second attack linked to ETA in less than 36 hours. A powerful car bomb on Wednesday destroyed a police barracks in the northern Spanish city of Burgos, injuring about 60 people.

If confirmed as ETA attacks, the blasts would conflict with government assertions that the group is seriously weakened after major police crackdowns in Spain and France in recent years.

The 50th anniversary of ETA's founding is today and the group may be trying to demonstrate with attacks on the two straight days before the milestone that it was not in any danger of breaking up.

Yesterday's victims belonged to the paramilitary Civil Guard, which is chiefly in charge of policing rural areas and guarding official buildings. Mallorca is one of Spain's top tourist destinations.

Television images showed the charred and mangled remains of a vehicle that had been parked on a street in the Palmanova beach resort area, southwest of the island's capital, Palma de Mallorca.

The cause of the explosion was under investigation. News reports said the explosion may have been caused by a bomb attached to the underside of a police patrol vehicle.

"State security forces have sealed off the island to avoid the escape of the terrorists," a regional Interior Ministry statement said. "This means that all exit routes via the port, the airport and the sports marinas of Mallorca are closed." Incoming flights and ferries were not affected.


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