Basque journalist injured by letter bomb

New York, May 15, 2001 — A Spanish journalist was severely injured after opening a letter bomb sent to his home in Zarauz, a town in the Basque region of northern Spain, near San Sebastian.

While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, most observers link it to the Basque separatist group ETA.

Gorka Landaburu, a reporter for the national magazine Cambio 16 and several national television stations, was injured at 10:20 a.m. this morning, according to local and international press reports. Landaburu lost at least one finger and suffered significant wounds to his hands, face and abdomen. The bomb was reportedly packed inside a book.

Since ending a 14-month long truce in December 1999, ETA has launched a terror campaign against the Spanish press. Prominent columnist José Luis López de Lacalle was murdered on May 7, 2000, and several other journalists have received letter bombs in the past year. Many Spanish journalists have been forced to leave the Basque country for security reasons, while others employ bodyguards.

“We urge Spanish authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into this cowardly attack,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “ETA, which seems to have declared war on the Spanish press, should be considered the leading suspect.”

Landaburu’s brother directs the Basque edition of the national daily El País, and another brother is a senior official at the European Commission. In 1998, Molotov cocktails were thrown into Landaburu’s residence. Three years earlier, masked men painted pro-ETA graffiti on the house.

ETA’s campaign for Basque independence has now lasted more than three decades and has cost an estimated 800 lives. Last Sunday, ETA appeared to lose significant ground in regional elections held in the Basque country. The political party linked to ETA received only 10 percent of the vote and lost half its seats in the local legislature. Meanwhile, moderate nationalists who oppose ETA’s use of violence made sweeping gains.