Police in Spain's Basque Country safely defused a car bomb yesterday after a warning given in the name of Basque separatist guerrilla group ETA. The bomb, planted amid an unprecedented crackdown on a political party that refuses to condemn ETA violence, was left in a van on a main road in the Basque coastal town of Zierbena, west of the port of Bilbao, police said. A local newspaper was tipped off by an anonymous caller in the name of ETA, western Europe's most active guerrilla group which has been killing civilians for more than 30 years to press its demands for Basque independence. Local media said the bomb was packed with 25 kg (55 pounds) of dynamite that could have been detonated by remote control. The surrounding area was cordoned off and security specialists deactivated the device after blowing the van's back door off using a robot, police said. Backed by a global crackdown on militants in the wake of the September 11 attacks last year on the United States, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has taken a hard line against ETA. Yesterday's bomb was a “special homage” on the first anniversary of September 11, one of the ruling centre-right Popular Party's leading Basque politicians said. “ETA is just as fanatical, just as fundamentalist, just as murderous as those who killed in the United States,” Carlos Iturgaiz told reporters at a September 11 commemoration in Madrid. In the political and judicial crackdown against ETA supporters, a judge has suspended the activities of radical Basque nationalist party Batasuna, citing links to ETA. The Spanish government is seeking to ban the party altogether, which appears to have entrenched the nationalist cause and caused deep divides in the troubled region. ETA, listed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States, has killed 836 people since 1968. Its last fatal attack came on August 4, when a six-year-old girl and a 57-year-old man were killed by a car bomb that exploded in the small fishing and tourist town Santa Pola.