By Humphrey Carter
PALMA

THIS summer, the security forces are going to be changing their operational tactics in the Balearics to ensure that there is no repeat of the ETA bombings which claimed the lives of two members of the Guardia Civil in Calvia, damaged a Palma city centre car park and three local bars and restaurants last season causing a major alert and concern in Majorca.

Lately, the Spanish security forces, in close cooperation with their French counterparts have made a wave of important arrests of key members of the ETA Basque terrorist organisation but only this week, Spain's Interior Minister (Home Secretary) Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba warned that ETA could be rearming after having been hit so hard by the security forces over the past year.

Yesterday, it was announced that, because of the ETA attacks in Majorca last summer, the police forces will be taking a new and different approach to the annual summer security operation in all of Spain's key tourist destinations.

The Central Government Delegate to the Balearics, Ramon Socias,. explained yesterday; “we can not afford to let anyone slip through the net this summer,” adding that all of the national Police and Guardia Civil chiefs have modified their mode of conduct and all areas which may have been “relaxed” are going to be tightened up again.

Socias admitted that certain security measures may have been relaxed here in the Balearics because the region has never been a real target for ETA but since last summer's bomb attacks, a series of measures have already been taken to increase the protection of the general public.

Socias said that protection of National Police and Guardia Civil patrol vehicles has been stepped up and improved and security around all of the region's Guardia Civil barracks has also been tightened.

The Central government Delegate also revealed that many of the security force's vehicles have been fitted with video cameras along with other measures which mean that all vehicles on partol are under strict control.

Socias said that this summer between 600 and 700 extra members of the Guardia Civil and the National Police are going to be deployed to the Balearics and the first units will begin arriving this week.

Not only are the security forces responsible for securing the safety and well-being of the general public and holiday makers, they also have the extra task of guarding the Spanish royal family which spends its annual summer holiday at Marivent Palace on the outskirts of Palma and is quite often joined by high profile international guests.

With regards to the government's recently announced austerity plan, Socias said that it will not affect the level of security provided by the police forces.

He said that the cuts are going to be made in paperwork and time officers spend at their desks along with a reduction in office materials etc. “The austerity plan will in no way lead to a reduction of citizen security,” he underlined.
There have, however, been complaints from forces in the Balearics that they have yet to receive their summer uniforms and Socias said that he will address this issues in Madrid over the next few days. “There will not be any need for any members of the police to go on patrol without a uniform, you can be sure of that,” he said.
Key areas where heightened security will be most noticeable will be at all ports of entry but there is also going to be much tighter maritime controls of yachts as well this summer.

Last summer's fatal car bombing of a Guardia Civil vehicle outside the Palmanova barracks rocked the Balearics and the four minor devices which exploded in three restaurants and the Plaza Mayor car park the following Sunday, fortunately not causing any injuries, put the island on red-alert with regular spot checks and controls being carried out for the rest of the summer season.

However, over the past few months, Palma has hosted a series of high ptofile European Union conferences, in particular the informal meeting of Defence Ministers which was also attended by NATO chiefs, and the security forces have been using the meetings to put their new tactics into action with great success.

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