ETA warns tourists away from Spain


The Basque separatist group ETA today said it intended to strike economic and tourist interests in Spain and warned foreign tourists not to visit the country.

"In 2003, ETA will once again strike hard against theSpanish tourist industry and it cannot guarantee that anyone whoenters the war zone will not be injured," an ETA statementpublished in Basque nationalist newpaper Gara on Sunday said.

In the statement, ETA claimed responsibility for eightattacks between June 14 and July 22, including two bombs whichtore through hotels in the popular foreign tourist resorts ofBenidorm and Alicante and injured 13 people.

Branded a terrorist organisation by the United States andthe European Union, ETA referred to a letter it sent last yearto foreign tour operators, journalists and embassies warningthat it would target holiday resorts and tourist interests.

The armed group reiterated "the personal risk which (foreigntourists) will run if they choose Spain as a holidaydestination."

ETA has killed more than 840 people since 1968 in a bloodycampaign for an independent Basque state in northern Spain andsouthwest France.

This summer ETA has appeared to step up the frequency of itsattacks, despite claims by Spanish and French police that theyhave arrested several leaders of the armed group.

In its statement, ETA blamed Spanish authorities for theinjuries caused by the July 22 bomb in Alicante, saying they hadreacted too slowly to a warning before the attack.