THE attack took place about 40 km from Pamplona.

A bomb blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA killed a local politician in northern Spain yesterday, casting a shadow over a ceremony to swear in the Basque president and Pamplona's running of the bulls festival. Jose Javier Mugica Astibia, 58, a town councillor from Leiza, was killed by explosives planted on the underside of his small van, police said yesterday. A witness told state radio Mugica's van, parked near his home, blew up when he opened the door. His wife and children came running out after the explosion, the neighbour said. The explosion came just hours before recently re-elected Basque regional President Juan Jose Ibarretxe was sworn in for his second term of office in a centuries-old tradition at an oak tree in the Basque city of Guernica. The start of the ceremony was marked by a minute's silence. “The shine in our hearts has darkened, greatly saddened by an inhuman and undignified act,” Ibarretxe said at the ceremony. The attack took place about 40 km (25 miles) from Pamplona, where the annual running of the bulls festival concluded on Saturday. Authorities in the town said all the day's official events would take place without the traditional music as a sign of protest at the attack. Mugica was one of two Leiza councillors from the centre-right UPN party, a regional party from Navarre aligned with Madrid's ruling Popular Party. He also drove a bus and owned a photography shop in Leiza, state radio said. UPN party officials said he had previously been threatened by ETA, which has killed about 800 people since 1968 in its bid to form an independent homeland in Basque regions of northern Spain and southwestern France.


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