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


Madrid
CNN

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

A sixth and latest bomb was discovered Thursday afternoon and sent to the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. A police source told CNN it 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. Officials said no one was injured in the process.

“We are grateful to Spanish law enforcement for their assistance in this matter,” Jamie Martin, a spokesman for the US 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 U.S. State Department spokesperson said it will “continue to assess the security situation and provide updates as appropriate. The U.S. Embassy in Madrid remains open for American civil services. We thank Spanish law enforcement for their assistance.”

An earlier bomb sent to an air force base near Madrid was discovered before dawn on Thursday, after one exploded at the Ukrainian embassy in the capital on Wednesday and another went off at a weapons manufacturer.

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A device addressed to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez arrived at the post at his official Monclova compound on November 24 and his security detail marked it as suspicious. After establishing a security perimeter, they carried out a “controlled explosion” of the cover, an interior ministry statement said.

The bomb received on Wednesday at the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid and at the arms manufacturer Instalaja in Zaragoza and on Thursday at Spain’s Torrejon air force base near Madrid were similar “in its features and content,” the statement said.

The most recent letter bomb was intercepted before dawn on Thursday after it was sent to the Torrejon air force base.

A scanner at the base detected the suspicious envelope, Spanish Defense Ministry officials said. A statement said the scan indicated that the envelope may contain “some type of mechanism” inside. Police were called to the base to analyze the envelope, which was relayed to a satellite station at the airfield.

The Spanish Defense Ministry has received a letter bomb addressed to Defense Minister Margarita Robles, Security Secretary Rafael Perez said on Thursday.

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Perez said the letters were sent from Spanish territory, and in four of the five cases, the defenses worked successfully to neutralize the bombs.

The minister said people should remain “calm” and there was still no reason to justify escalating the terror threat.

The latest developments follow the discovery of two letter bombs on Wednesday. Spanish officials said the first explosion hit the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid in the afternoon, injuring an employee.

The envelope, addressed to the Ukrainian ambassador in Spain, exploded after being handled by Ukrainian workers at the embassy, ​​Spain’s foreign ministry said in a statement. Later, in the evening, police defused a letter bomb near an arms manufacturer in northern Spain, a senior Spanish official said.

A police vehicle was seen entering the Torrejon airbase near Madrid on Thursday, where a suspected explosive device was hidden in an envelope sent there.

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

The envelope sent to the arms manufacturer contained the return address of the envelope that exploded at the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid, official Rosa Serrano said in an interview with Spain’s radio station SER late Wednesday.

“The return address on the envelope is the same email,” said Serrano, who is the top Spanish government official in the Aragon region where the second letter bomb arrived on both envelopes.

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Serrano said the arms manufacturer’s cover in the city of Zaragoza, in Aragon, “clearly came from Ukraine,” adding that officials suspected those at the embassy might be from Ukraine.

The arms maker’s executives were apparently aware of the Madrid blast, so when a cover arrived immediately no one seemed to recognize, the company called the police, Serrano said.

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

Serrano did not identify the firm, but Spanish media reported its name and said it manufactured the rocket launchers Spain sent to Ukraine as it fought Russian aggression. CNN could not immediately confirm that detail.

“I know the firm has been a weapons manufacturer for a long time with state-of-the-art facilities,” Serrano said in a radio interview.

Police have notified Spain’s national court, which is investigating terrorism, about each of the letter bombs, the statement said.

The Interior Ministry has ordered increased security measures at all embassies and consulates in Spain and other sites requiring special protection. Security had already been heightened since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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