Suspected Basque separatist gunmen killed a former Socialist politician in Spain's Basque region yesterday in the latest attack in their escalating campaign for independence, officials said. Juan Maria Jauregui, 49, a former Basque provincial governor who had given up politics for a business career, was shot in the head at point-blank range as he sat in a cafe while vacationing in the town of Tolosa, police said. The two gunmen, suspected members of the guerrilla group ETA, later blew up their getaway car in a neighbouring town in an apparent effort to destroy evidence and cover their tracks, authorities said. Police at first reported Jauregui had died at the scene. But he was revived by paramedics on the way to a local hospital, only to succumb to his wounds about an hour later. Jauregui had been based in Chile for the past three years working as an executive with Aldeasa, a Spanish company that operates a chain of airport duty-free shops. He was on holiday in Tolosa, where he had served as a town councillor. It was the seventh killing blamed on ETA since it called off a 14-month-long ceasefire last December and came amid an intensifying summer offensive that has brought nearly a dozen attacks in recent weeks. ETA's strategy appears aimed at forcing the Spanish government to negotiate the group's demands for Basque self-determination -something it has rejected as non-negotiable. ETA -- the acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom in the Basque language - has been linked to about 800 killings in its 32-year fight to create a separate state carved out of northern Spain and southern France. It has frequently targeted local members of Spain's ruling Popular Party and the main opposition Socialists, both of which fiercely oppose Basque separatism, and has also recently taken aim at the Basque business elite.
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