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Spain13 December 2002

Police defuse a parcel bomb at El País

Reporters Without Borders today voiced its outrage over yesterday’s attempted attack on the El País offices in Barcelona in the form of a parcel bomb that was defused by police. The booby-trapped parcel contained 50 grams of explosive that would have gone off when opened. However, the newspaper’s security guards decided the parcel was suspect when scanning incoming mail and called the police.

"The Spanish press is again the target of terrorists, after a long series of attacks in the Basque Country," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said. "Everything must be done to combat the spread of violence toward the news media in Spain," Ménard said, pointing out that some 50 persons were present at the El País office when the bomb was detected and many of them could have been injured if it had exploded.

According to initial findings, the parcel bomb was mailed from Milan by an "anticapitalist group". The parcel contained a book and a letter in Italian signed by an anarchist group calling itself "The Five Cs" (Cell against capitalism, prisons, their jailers and their prison cells). The letter contained threats against certain "capitalist enterprises" and demanded the release of prisons held for more than 20 years. The group could be linked to one of the Italian anarchist groups campaigning for the release of prisoners held in special conditions of detention.

Anarchists Claudio Lavazza and Giovanni Barcia, the presumed leaders of the "Five Cs," are serving 50-year sentences in Huelva prison (in southern Spain) for the murder of two policemen in 1996. The Italian police believe that the bomb was sent to the Catalan offices of El País for the sake of increased media impact. The police attribute several attacks to the "Five Cs," including a parcel bomb that exploded at the Italian television network RT4 on 18 July 2001, inflicting minor injuries on one person.

The attempted attack on El País has certain similarities with the one against journalist Jesus Maria Zuloaga at the headquarters of the Madrid daily La Razón on 25 April 2000, in which a video cassette-sized parcel bomb was detected during a scan. Responsibility was claimed by a group calling itself "The Anarchists," which said it wanted to demonstrate solidarity with prisoners and press for the release of prisoners who were ill. It also demanded the abolition of solitary confinement regimes in prisons. In 2000, a total of seven parcel bombs were sent to newspapers or journalists in Spain.

Reporters Without Borders notes that journalists are a preferred target of terrorists in Spain. In all, about 100 Spanish journalists are receiving government protection or the protection of private security companies, and the news media are stepping up security measures, in particular, installing bullet-proof windows and scanning machines.

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