1 August 2007

Two small bombs explode on Tour de France route after ETA warning

No one was hurt. The blast was preceded by a call to the highway authorities in name of the armed Basque group ETA.

Two small explosive devices detonated Wednesday in the Basque Country along a route used by the Tour de France cycling race after a warning call by the armed Basque group ETA, the Interior Ministry said. No one was injured.

The explosions occurred outside Belagua, a town in the Navarra region, the Interior Ministry office in Navarra said, where the race itinerary took cyclists into on Wednesday.

The devices exploded 40 minutes apart on opposite sides of the road after a caravan of Tour-related publicity vehicles, which precedes the riders, had passed. The race's route was not changed, an official with the Navarra office said on condition of anonymity because of department rules.

The devices were inside plastic food containers and involved "a small amount of explosives,'' this official said. They exploded on bluffs overlooking the road and kicked up some earth but caused no injuries, he said.

Spain and France strengthen fight against ETA

The French minister highlighted 23 people have been arrested over the last few months.

French Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie met with her Spanish counterpart Alfredo Perez-Rubalcaba in Paris on Tuesday.

The ministers highlighted their strong will to fight against terrorism and organised crime. Alliot-Marie expressed her country's determination to collaborate with Spain in their fight against the Basque armed group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) and mentioned the number of arrests obtained since the beginning of this year.

"You were able to see that over the last few months important results were obtained. Since the 1st of January of this year, 23 people were detained, six have been extradited," she said.

Last week, French police detained three suspected members of the ETA .The suspects, two men and a woman, were arrested in the city of Rodez.

They did not immediately release their identities, but Spain's Interior Ministry identified one of them as Juan Cruz Maiza Artola, chief of ETA logistics.

Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba thanked and congratulated French security forces.

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