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Basque Separatists Kill Hostage, Spark National Outcry

Associated Press

A Basque politician who was shot twice in the head after being kidnapped by Basque separatists died early today, a hospital spokesman said.

Miguel Angel Blanco, 29, had been found on a roadside with two bullet wounds in the head Saturday, hours after Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar led a demonstration of a half-million people demanding his safe release in Bilbao.

The militant Basque separatist group ETA kidnapped Blanco on Thursday and threatened to execute him at 4 p.m. Saturday (7 a.m. PDT) unless ETA prisoners were transferred to prisons in the Basque region.

With the government refusing to make concessions, vigils were held across Spain.

Within an hour of the deadline, people who heard gunshots found Blanco - bound and shot twice in the head. Spontaneous anti-ETA demonstrations broke out in several cities.

People gathered in plazas, clapping and showing their palms - symbolizing they, unlike ETA, have no blood on their hands.

Senate President Juan Ignacio Barrero said the kidnapping and shooting “will be the political tomb of those who support ETA.”

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