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ETA blamed for politician's death

  • Story Highlights
  • Spain's prime minister blames ETA for killing of former city councilman
  • Isaias Carrasco was shot in northern town of Mondragan and died in hospital
  • Basque separatist group ETA has not claimed responsibility for the attack
  • Killing increases security concerns before national elections this weekend
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From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A man shot and killed a former town councilman from the ruling Socialist Party in northern Spain on Friday, just two days before national elections, in an attack blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA.

"Today, ETA killed Isaias Carrasco. The government states that all who took part in the attack will be arrested and face justice," Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said in a nationally televised statement."

The gunman shot Carrasco from the back several times at midday Friday in the northern town of Mondragan, hitting him in the head and chest. He died later at hospital, Rubalcaba said.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

Zapatero, a Socialist who is in a tight re-election battle with conservative challenger Mariano Rajoy, was informed of the news while at one of the last rallies of the election campaign, CNN partner station CNN+ reported.

Following the attack, Socialist Party and Popular Party officials agreed to suspend campaigning, which would have ended later Friday with major rallies in Madrid for each main candidate.

Instead, they announced a meeting for later in the day in Parliament "to express the condemnation of all of society" to the attack, the Socialist Party said in a statement.

"Today is a day of mourning," Rajoy, the Popular Party candidate, said in a separate nationally-televised statement. "The only culprit here is ETA, and the only option is to defeat them with the rule of law and the security forces and the unrelenting will of all Spaniards.

"We will win this battle and the killers will be jailed."

Zapatero was due to make a statement later Friday.

A woman in Mondragon who spoke by telephone with CNN+ said she heard three shots from her window overlooking the street and saw a man down on the street being comforted by his shocked wife and daughter.

The government put security forces on maximum alert, backed by the armed forces, at the start of the election campaign two weeks ago out of concerns about possible terrorist attacks -- especially by ETA, which has been blamed for more than 800 deaths in its long fight for Basque independence.

Four years ago, the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people came three days before the elections. The attack was blamed on Islamic terrorists.

Rajoy has accused Zapatero of being soft on terrorism and of secretly negotiating with ETA, even after an ETA bomb at Madrid's airport in December 2006 blew apart a fledgling peace process at the time. Zapatero has rejected those charges.

Hundreds of town councilors in the northern Basque region have police or private bodyguards, out of fears of ETA attacks, but CNN+ said that the former councilman killed on Friday did not appear to have a bodyguard at the time of the attack. Both the United States and European Union list ETA as a terrorist group.


ETA declared a unilateral cease-fire in March 2006, raising hopes for an end to the violence. However, ETA's bomb at Madrid's airport, which killed two men and destroyed a parking garage, ended the peace process.

ETA officially ended the cease-fire in June 2007 and since then has been blamed for three killings: two undercover Spanish Civil Guards who were shot dead in France while on an anti-terrorist operation against the group, and the former councilman killed on Friday. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Basque CountryETA Separatist GroupJose ZapateroMariano Rajoy

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