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Skip Spain, Basque group tells tourists

MADRID, Spain (AP) — An armed Basque separatist group warned travelers to stay away from Spain in a published report Friday, while claiming responsibility for five recent killings.

The ETA recommended "European citizens not to travel to Spanish tourist destinations," in a statement published in the Basque-language newspapers Gara and Egunkaria.

The group has claimed responsibility for killing more than 800 people since it began a violent campaign in 1968 for independence of Basque regions in northern Spain and southwestern France.

The ETA, whose name stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom, has in the past targeted tourist resorts and railway company facilities.

Friday's warning came two weeks after a police officer, Santos Santamaria, was killed in a car bomb in Roses, 60 miles north of Barcelona.

In its communique, ETA claimed responsibility for the March 17 killing, as well as for the fatal shooting of a Basque Socialist party town councilor, Froilan Elespe, three days later.

The ETA also said it was behind the car-bomb killings of a Basque police officer, Inaki Totorika, on March 9 and two electrical workers, Jose Angel Santos and Josu Leonet, on Feb. 22.

The statement said the slaying of Santos and Leonet, who were later found to be members of a Basque party linked to ETA, was "an irreparable error."

Authorities believe the intended target of the February bomb was a Socialist party councilor who was injured in the blast.

ETA has now claimed the killing of 29 people — including six this year — since ending a 14-month unilaterally called cease-fire in December, 1999.