Spain's PM becomes latest target of letter bombs

Spain’s PM becomes latest target of letter bombs which have also been sent to Ukrainian embassy and arms manufacturer supplying Kyiv: Russia ‘condemns terrorist act’

  • PM Pedro Sanchez received the booby-trapped letter on November 24
  • Interior ministry said today letter was ‘similar’ to four others that have been sent 
  • Letter bombs have been sent to Sanchez, Ukrainian embassy, a Spanish weapons manufacturer, the Defence Ministry and an air force base near Madrid

Spain’s Prime Minister has become the latest target of a worrying trend of letter bombs being sent to high-profile targets including the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid.

Pedro Sanchez received the booby-trapped letter on November 24, which was ‘similar’ to four others that have been sent to the Ukrainian embassy, a Spanish weapons manufacturer, the defence ministry and an air force base.

The envelope, ‘containing pyrotechnic material’ and addressed to Sanchez, was destroyed by security staff who carried out a ‘controlled explosion’, the interior ministry said today. 

And since Sanchez was sent the letter bomb, ‘similar’ devices have been sent to five locations across Spain – including a weapons manufacturer which supplies rocket launchers to Ukraine.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (pictured yesterday) has become the latest target of a worrying trend of letter bombs being sent to high-profile targets including the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid

Police officers stand outside Spain’s Ministry of Defense after suspected explosive devices hidden in envelopes were mailed to the ministry on Thursday 

A fifth device was sent this morning to Spain’s Ministry of defence, with the envelope addressed to the defence minister Margarita Robles.

Deputy Interior Minister Rafael Perez today said that early indications suggest that the five envelopes with explosives were sent from within Spain.

The devices were sent in similar brown envelopes and contained loose gunpowder with an electrical ignition mechanism that would make the powder burn, rather than explode, a source close to the investigation said.

The Russian Embassy today condemned ‘any threat or terrorist act’ in relation to the five letter bombs.

It comes after a security officer at Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid lightly injured his hand while opening a letter bomb addressed to the Ukrainian ambassador on Wednesday, prompting Kyiv to boost security at its embassies worldwide. 

Ambassador Serhii Pohoreltsev told the Ukrainian news site European Pravda that the suspicious package addressed to him was handed to the embassy’s Ukrainian commandant.

‘The package contained a box, which raised the commandant’s suspicions and he decided to take it outside with no one in the vicinity and open it,’ Pohoreltsev was quoted as saying.

‘After opening the box and hearing a click that followed, he tossed it and then heard the explosion… Despite not holding the box at the time of the explosion, the commandant hurt his hands and received a concussion.’ 

A Spanish police officer stands near Spain’s Ministry of Defense after suspected explosive devices hidden in envelopes were mailed to the ministry on Thursday

On Wednesday, a security officer at Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid lightly injured his hand while opening a letter bomb addressed to the Ukrainian ambassador, prompting Kyiv to boost security at its embassies worldwide. Pictured: Spanish policemen secure area around the embassy on Wednesday

After the first incident, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ordered all of Kyiv’s embassies abroad to ‘urgently’ strengthen security and urged Spain to investigate the attack, a Ukrainian ministry spokesperson said.

A second package was confirmed to have been received on Wednesday night at the headquarters of Spanish weapons manufacturer, Instalaza in Zaragoza, in northeastern Spain, police said.

Instalaza manufactures the C90 rocket launcher that Spain has supplied to Ukraine.

Spanish security forces found a third suspected explosive device hidden in an envelope mailed to a European Union satellite centre located at an air force base in Torrejon de Ardoz, outside Madrid, on Thursday, the defence ministry said today.

After scanning the envelope by X-ray, air force security officers determined it contained ‘a mechanism’, the ministry statement said.

The base is regularly used to send weapons donated by Spain to Ukraine, as well as for travel in official planes by senior government officials. 

The satellite centre supports the EU’s common foreign and security policy by gathering information from space intelligence devices, according to its website. EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell described such systems as ‘the eyes of Europe’ in September.

A fifth envelope with ‘explosive’ arrived at the defence ministry in Madrid on Thursday morning before experts blew up the package in a controlled explosion.

Spain’s High Court, which specialises in terrorism offences, has opened a probe into the attacks.

The Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in Spain posted a statement on Thursday condemning ‘any threat or terrorist act’ in relation to the five letter bombs sent to government offices, private companies and the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid.

‘Any threat or terrorist act, particularly directed at a diplomatic mission, are to be totally condemned,’ the statement said.

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