A ring of steel was placed around Palmanova yesterday after terrorists killed two paramilitary police officers in an attack which bore all the hallmarks of the Basque Terror Group, ETA.

The bomb, which had been placed under their vehicle, exploded just as they were about to start a routine patrol in the popular resort. It had been activated using a remote controlled device. The two Civil Guard officers were identified by police as Carlos Saenz de Tejada and Diego Salva. Within minutes of the attack police sealed off Palmanova and also the airport and main ferry terminals were closed. A major hunt for the terrorists was launched with police road-blocks across the island. Later yesterday afternoon police made safe another explosive device which had been found in a car close to the other Civil Guard barracks. Government delegate Ramon Socias, who is responsible for the police in the Balearics, said that they had introduced “Operation Jaula” which involved effectively closing down the island so that the terrorists could not flee. The police operation involved road blocks on all main roads. Yesterday afternoon there were long tailbacks on most island roads. Palma airport and the main ferry terminals re-opened yesterday afternoon although tour companies were warning of delays. Tourists complained that there was little information available to them. Many were horrified when they were informed than a bomb had exploded. Socias, who visited the scene shortly after the attack said that there had been no other injuries. Security forces believe ETA, weakened by arrests of top leaders, and long relatively dormant, is trying to put on a show of force to prove it is still able to strike at the Spanish state and to maintain morale among its supporters.

The Majorca attack, which came one day after 46 people, including sleeping children, were injured by a pre-dawn bomb aimed at family quarters of Civil Guard officers in Burgos on the Spanish mainland.

The Spanish government's delegate on the island called ETA a “bunch of crazy murderers.” “They're getting ever more desperate and more dangerous,” said government representative Ramon Socias.
Today, ETA, blamed for more than 800 deaths over several decades, celebrates the 50th anniversary of its secret foundation during the Franco dictatorship when Basque culture was repressed. The date will be cause for celebration for the minority of Basque nationalists who share ETA's policy of using violence to win independence for the Basque Country from the rest of Spain.

While polls indicate most Basques seem to favour some sort of independence for their mountainous region, which already has considerable autonomy, support for violence has slipped in recent years.

The last fatal attack attributed to ETA was in June, when a booby-trapped car killed an anti-terrorist police officer in the Basque city of Bilbao. The Socialist government broke off peace talks with ETA after the rebels killed two people with a car bomb at Madrid airport in December 2006.

The Balearic government announced that there would be three days of mourning in memory of the murdered officers.

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