Spain letter bombs: Security as prime minister and US embassy targeted


Madrid
CNN

Spain said on Thursday it was beefing up security after a series of letter bombs were discovered in the country, including one sent to Spain’s prime minister last week and another to the US embassy.

The sixth and final bomb was discovered Thursday afternoon and sent to the US Embassy in Madrid. A police source told CNN that he was intercepted at the embassy’s security post around 12:30 p.m. local time.

According to two US officials, the envelope was detonated in a controlled environment. No one was injured in the process, officials said.

“We are grateful to Spanish law enforcement for their assistance in this matter,” Jimmy Martin, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, told CNN.

Security at the embassy was heightened after suspicious packages were sent to other embassies on Wednesday, a US official said.

A spokesperson for the US State Department said: “It will continue to assess the security situation and provide updates as necessary. The U.S. Embassy in Madrid is open for services to American citizens. We thank Spanish law enforcement for their assistance.

An earlier bomb sent to an air force base near Madrid was defused before dawn on Thursday after a bomb exploded at the Ukrainian embassy in the capital and another at an arms manufacturer.

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A device addressed to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez arrived at his official residence in Monclova on November 24 and his security intelligence declared it suspicious. The interior ministry statement said that after establishing a security environment, they carried out a “controlled detonation” of the envelope.

The bomb “due to its characteristics and content” is similar to those found on Wednesday at the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid and at the Instalaza weapons factory in Zaragoza, and on Thursday at Spain’s Torquón Air Force Base near Madrid, the statement said.

The latest letter bomb was intercepted just before dawn Thursday after being sent to Turgeon Air Force Base.

Spanish Defense Ministry officials said a suspicious envelope was detected by a scanner at the base. A scan revealed the envelope may have “some sort of mechanism” inside, the statement said. Police were called to the base to analyze the envelope, which was addressed to the satellite center at the air base.

Spain’s Defense Ministry also received a letter bomb addressed to Defense Minister Margarita Robles, Spanish Foreign Minister Rafael Perez said on Thursday.

Perez said the letters were likely sent from Spanish territory, and in four of the five cases, security measures were successfully taken to defuse the bombs.

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The minister said people should “remain calm” and there was still no reason to justify an increase in the terrorist threat.

The latest developments came after the discovery of two letter bombs on Wednesday. Spanish officials said the first explosion went off in the afternoon at the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid, injuring an employee.

The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in a statement that the envelope addressed to the Ukrainian ambassador to Spain exploded after touching a Ukrainian worker at the embassy. Later in the night, police defused a letter bomb at a weapons manufacturer in northern Spain, a senior Spanish official said.

A police car was seen arriving at Torquon Air Base near Madrid on Thursday after a suspected bomb was found in an envelope posted there.

Police stand near the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid after a letter explosion on November 30, 2022.

In an interview with a Spanish radio station late Wednesday, the official, Rosa Serrano, said the envelope sent to the arms manufacturer had the same return address as the one that blew up at the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid.

“The return address on the e-mail envelope is the same on both envelopes,” said Serrano, who is the top Spanish government official in the Aragon region.

The envelope at the arms manufacturer in the Aragon city of Zaragoza “appears to have come from Ukraine,” Serrano said, adding that officials suspect the envelope at the embassy may also be from Ukraine.

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Serrano said an executive at the arms maker apparently knew about the Madrid blast, so when an envelope arrived soon after that no one seemed to recognize, the company called the police.

The bomb squad arrived and police determined that the envelope contained explosives designed to detonate when opened. Serrano said it was disabled.

Serrano did not identify the company, but Spanish media reported its name and said it produced the rocket launchers that Spain sent to fight Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. CNN could not immediately confirm these details.

“I know this company has been a high-end weapons manufacturer for a long time,” Serrano said in a radio interview.

The statement said police had notified Spain’s national court, which investigates terrorism, about each of the bombs.

The Ministry of Interior has ordered increased security measures in all embassies and consulates in Spain, as well as other places that require special protection. After the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the security was already strengthened.

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