ARMED Basque separatist group ETA said on Sunday it intended to strike economic and tourist interests in Spain and warned foreign tourists not to visit the Mediterranean nation. “In 2003, ETA will once again strike hard against the Spanish tourist industry and it cannot guarantee that anyone who enters the war zone will not be injured,” an ETA statement published in Basque nationalist newpaper Gara on Sunday said. In the statement, ETA claimed responsibility for eight attacks between June 14 and July 22, including two bombs which tore through hotels in the popular foreign tourist resorts of Benidorm and Alicante and injured 13 people. Branded a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union, ETA referred to a letter it sent last year to foreign tour operators, journalists and embassies warning that it would target holiday resorts and tourist interests. The armed group reiterated “the personal risk which (foreign tourists) will run if they choose Spain as a holiday destination.” ETA has killed more than 840 people since 1968 in a bloody campaign for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southwest France. This summer ETA has appeared to step up the frequency of its attacks, despite claims by Spanish and French police that they have arrested several leaders of the armed group. In its statement, ETA blamed Spanish authorities for the injuries caused by the July 22 bomb in Alicante, saying they had reacted too slowly to a warning before the attack. The British Foreign Office has already warned British travellers of the risk of ETA terrorism when they travel to Spain.
The warning, on the Foreign Office website, was updated last week to include the bombings on mainland tourist resorts.
The Asociation of British Travel Agents was quoted as saying recently that the bombings would not deter British tourists.


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