December 31, 2006 in Nation/World

In brief: Airport bombing blamed on ETA

The Spokesman-Review
 

A powerful car bomb exploded at Madrid’s international airport Saturday and Spain’s government, blaming the Basque group ETA, suspended plans for peace talks with the separatists.

The blast left two people missing and 26 injured, most with damage to their ears from the shock wave.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the government would halt talks with ETA over the bombing. The group had agreed to stop attacks in its cease-fire declaration earlier this year that was seen as the greatest hope in a decade of a peaceful end to the conflict.

“The condition for dialogue was and is the unequivocal desire to abandon violence,” said Zapatero. “The very grave attack today by the terrorist band ETA is radically contrary to that desire.”

Gaza City, Gaza Strip

Abbas arrives for Eid al-Adha holiday

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to the Gaza Strip on Saturday in his first visit to the region since a deadly outbreak of factional violence this month.

Abbas, who spends most of his time at his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah, arrived to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday, according to his office. He was also expected to attend ceremonies on Monday for the anniversary of the founding of his Fatah movement.

Earlier this month Fatah and Hamas militants waged deadly street battles that killed 17 people, paralyzed much of Gaza and led to fears of a civil war. A shaky cease-fire last week has largely ended the violence.

Before leaving Ramallah, Abbas criticized Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, saying he had broken his promise to release Palestinian prisoners ahead of the Islamic holiday.

Olmert and Abbas met last week and the Israeli leader agreed to a series of gestures. Israeli officials said he would also consider a small prisoner release to help strengthen Abbas in his rivalry with Hamas.

But Israeli officials said Friday that no prisoners would be freed until an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas-linked militants in June was freed.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Witness tortured, officials say

A witness in a human rights trial was abducted and tortured using methods reminiscent of Argentina’s military dictatorships decades ago, government officials and associates of the victim said Saturday.

Luis Gerez was found Friday night in the city of Garin, 28 miles north of Buenos Aires, two days after he vanished. He was shirtless and bore the marks of having been beaten and burned with cigarettes, authorities said.

Gerez, who disappeared Wednesday, was scared but generally in good condition, relatives said. Gerez, who has accused a former police chief of torturing him during the 1966-1973 dictatorship, was released shortly after President Nestor Kirchner told the nation that former security agents from past military regimes were believed to be behind his disappearance.

Associated Press

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