The Spanish press was unanimous in blaming the armed Basque separatist group ETA for seeking to disrupt Sunday's general election with the killing of a former Socialist Party politician, though no one has claimed responsibility
The Spanish press Saturday unanimously accused the armed Basque separatist group ETA of seeking to disrupt general elections with the killing of a former politician from the ruling Socialist Party.
"Terrorism once again dynamites the campaign and influences the election," said the centre-right newspaper El Mundo.
The leftist paper Publico headlined: "Bullets against votes", while the conservative ABC said "ETA 'votes' with a shot in the neck, and the elections are once again marked by terror."
On Friday afternoon, Isaias Carrasco, a former municipal councillor, was shot at close range outside his home in the town of Mondragon, in Spain's northern Basque region. He died shortly afterwards in hospital.
There have been no claims of responsibility. But the government swiftly blamed ETA, which has killed over 800 people in bombings and shootings in its nearly 40-year campaign for an independent Basque homeland.
All political parties called off campaigning for Sunday's elections just hours before it was officially due to close at midnight.
Several newspapers drew a parallel between the attack and that of March 11, 2004, when bomb blasts on Madrid commuter trains killed 191 people.
Zapatero scored a surprise victory in elections three days later, backed by voters angered over the conservative government's insistence that ETA was to blame even though evidence pointed to Islamic extremists angered by Madrid's role in the Iraq war.
"Like four years before, the call to the ballot box has been soiled by blood from vile terrorist action, this time by the cowardly gun of ETA," the centre-left newspaper El Pais said in an editorial.
"ETA seeks its March 11," said the centre-right Catalan paper La Vanguardia.
Several papers published a photograph of Zapatero taken at the moment he learned of the killing at a campaign rally in the southern city of Malaga, a look of anger and disgust on his face.
Some newspapers also called for voters to respond to the attack turning out in high numbers on Sunday.
"Votes to undo ETA," ABC said in an editorial. "Massive turnout in the face of ETA," said the leftist El Periodico.
Zapatero is favorite to defeat conservative opposition leader Mariano Rajoy on Sunday.
But the Socialists fear a low turnout could hand the election to the conservatives, and have focused their campaign in recent days on mobilizing their supporters.
Date created : 2008-03-08