, BURGOS, Jul 29 – The Spanish government accused the Basque separatist group ETA of trying to kill women and children on Wednesday in a car bombing outside a police barracks in northern Spain which wounded more than 60 people.
About 120 people, one-third of them children, were sleeping inside the barracks in Burgos when the bomb went off at around 4:00 am (0200 GMT), blowing off most of its facade, Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said.
The blast left a big crater in the street outside the barracks while the walls of several rooms were blasted off with damage visible up to the 14th floor of the building.
Rubalcaba charged that ETA was "undoubtedly trying to kill" people with the blast as it had not issued any prior warning.
"It was not just aimed at those working in the Civil Guards but also but also their families, which makes this particularly despicable. Fourty-one children could have been killed," he said at the scene of the bombing. At least 64 people were injured, most of them suffering cuts from flying glass, the director of the regional health service, Francisco Javier Guisasola, told reporters.
Police earlier said at least 22 women and six children were slightly injured in the blast.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso condemned the attack as "indiscriminate and savage."
"I want to express our firm condemnation of the attack on the Civil Guard barracks in Burgos," he said.
The EU expressed its "complete solidarity with the citizens and the democratic institutions of Spain in the fight against terrorism," he added.
ETA has frequently targeted the Civil Guard in its 41-year campaign to carve a Basque homeland out of northern Spain and south-western France.
The latest attack came just two days before the 50th anniversary of ETA’s founding, on July 31, 1959, by nationalist students inspired by Marxist-Leninist teachings.
The group, considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States, carried out its first planned killing on August 2, 1968 with the shooting of a policeman. It is blamed for the deaths of 825 people.
Spanish public television last month said a new road map of strategic plans by ETA reaffirmed its commitment to violence to achieve its aims.
"The terrorists believe that Basque independence is their irreversible goal. Only then will ETA no longer kill," TVE said, quoting a document that it said outlined the group’s strategy put together over the past three years.
The newspaper El Mundo said on Sunday that security forces were on the alert after receiving information from France that ETA planned to bring three vans packed with explosives into Spain.
Rubalcaba said it was likely that the remains of what appeared to be a van destroyed by "a very powerful bomb" in Burgos had come from France.
Media reports said the van contained at least 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of explosives.
The last ETA attack took place in early July when a bomb exploded in front of the office of the Basque Socialist party. That came two months after the Socialist Party scored a historic victory that gave the regional government its first non-nationalist chief, Patxi Lopez, who has vowed to make the fight against ETA a priority.
The last fatal attack blamed on ETA was on June 19, when a policeman was killed in a car-bomb blast near the Basque city of Bilbao.
In mid-2007 ETA called off a 15-month-old ceasefire following a deadlock in tentative peace talks with Madrid.
Since then the Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has taken a hard line against it, repeatedly ruling out any new negotiations, while a string of operations by Spanish and French police have weakened ETA’s leadership.