STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
THE Princes of Asturias paid tribute yesterday to the two Guardia Civil officers - Carlos Saenz de Tejada and Diego Salva -murdered by the terrorist group ETA in Palmanova on Thursday.

The funeral of the group's two latest victims was held in Palma Cathedral and conducted by Armed Forces Archbishop Juan del Rio and the Bishop of Majorca, Jesus Murgui. The Archbishop urged attendees not to lose heart in the face of “unjustified extremism.” Also present at the funeral was the eldest daughter of the King of Spain, the Infanta Elena, the Duke and Duchess of Palma and Central Government's Interior Minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.

The Archbishop said that those who will have the last word in the struggle against the terrorists are people like the two officers who died, working for peace, justice and human decency. The Bishop of Majorca was able to pass on a message of condolence from Pope Benedict XVI through the Papal nuncio in Spain.

The President of the Balearic Islands, Francesc Antich, and the leader of the Basque Country, Patxi Lopez took their place in the first line of mourners in the funeral procession. Joining them were representatives of the main political parties of the country including the Secretary of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) Leire Pajin and ex Minister for Defence, Federico Trillo.

Before the funeral service got underway, the Princes of Asturias - Prince Felipe, the heir to the Spanish throne, and his wife Doña Letizia - gave their condolences to the distraught families of Carlos and Diego who died when their patrol car was blown up by a remote controlled bomb outside the Guardia Civil station in Palmanova on Thursday afternoon.

Doña Elena and the Duke and Duchess of Palma who are spending a few days on Majorca, were the first members of the royal family to arrive at the Cathedral in the same car. They took their seats just a few moments before the arrival of Prince Felipe and Doña Letizia who were applauded by onlookers.

Then when the crowds that had gathered to pay their last respects fell silent, the coffins of the two victims, accompanied by civil and military officials were brought from the chapel of rest in the neighbouring Almudaina palace into the Cathedral to the strains of a funeral march.

Applause and shouts of support for Spain and the Guardia Civil broke the air as the coffins draped in the national flag and topped with red carnations were borne into the Cathedral on the shoulders' of companions of the two bomb victims. The coffins were preceded by bearers carrying the Guardia Civil gold cross merit of honour, posthumously awarded to Carlos and Diego yesterday morning by the Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

When the service was over, the Guardia Civil anthem was played as the funeral cortège left the Cathedral. The Prince and Princess of Asturias took the occasion to talk for a few moments with the commander of the Guardia Civil headquarters in Calvia to which the victims had belonged.

The Princes, Don Felipe and Doña Letizia returned to Madrid yesterday although they are expected to return to Majorca within the next few days for their traditional summer break at the Marivent palace, located only several kilometres from where the bomb exploded on Thursday in Palmanova. Meanwhile, the King and Queen of Spain, Don Juan Carlos and Doña Sofia are expected to arrive in Palma following the end of an official visit they have made to the island of Madeira.

The body of Diego Salva who had only this week taken up his post again as a Guardia Civil officer after several months of lying in a coma following a car accident will be buried in Palma. That of Carlos Saenz de Tejada will probably be returned to Burgos later today.

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