clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Spaniards march silently to decry killings

Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards marched silently through the streets of Seville on Saturday to protest Basque separatist violence after ETA guerrillas killed a ruling party politician and his wife.

Popular Party city counselor Alberto Jimenez Becerril Ortiz and his wife, Ascension Garcia, were shot early Friday as they returned home from dinner with friends in Seville, the capital of the southern Andalusia region.The double killing set off a fresh wave of demonstrations condemning ETA, which has waged a bloody 30-year campaign for an independent Basque homeland encompassing parts of northern Spain and southern France.

Police in Seville estimated about 400,000 people turned out for the march. In the Basque city of Bilbao, police said about 50,000 people took part in a pro-peace demonstration. Similar protests were held on a smaller scale in other cities and towns.

The march was the largest since July, when an estimated 6 million Spaniards took to the streets in a week of demonstrations after ETA kidnapped and killed young Basque Popular Party town councilman Miguel Angel Blanco.

"This demonstration shows the immense majority of us want to defend our idea of freedom against the complete brutality, which kills and cuts short people's lives and which has sown such pain in Seville," said Labor Minister Javier Arenas, one of the march leaders and chairman of the Popular Party in Andalusia.

Agriculture Minister Loyola de Palacio said ETA's attacks on ruling party politicians would not force the center-right government to change its policy.

"We are not going to give in," Palacio told reporters at the demonstration.