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June 30, 2007
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Airport in spain closed after bomb hoax

MADRID, Spain — Spanish police acting on what appears to have been a hoax telephoned bomb threat evacuated Ibiza airport Saturday and safely destroyed a suspicious bag in a controlled explosion, the Interior Ministry said.

After the warning, police evacuated and searched the airport, found two suspicious items — a shoe box and a rucksack in the airport car park — and destroyed the bag. The shoe box was searched by a remote-controlled robot and found to be empty, the ministry said.

A telephoned warning had been received by Basque newspaper Gara, which the violent Basque separatist group ETA often uses as a conduit for bomb warnings.

A spokeswoman for the AENA airport authority, which controls Spain's airports, said that by Saturday afternoon the airport had returned to normal. Around 13,000 travelers were affected by flight disruptions caused by the airport's temporary closure, she said.

Incoming flights were diverted to other Spanish airports or were kept circling, she said.

Ibiza is one of Spain's best known holiday destinations and attracts tens of thousands of summer vacationers.

The telephone threat was made just weeks after ETA called off a 15-month cease-fire, blaming the government for refusing to make concessions in the peace process and warning it was once again becoming active "on all fronts."

Fears have been growing that renewed ETA violence was imminent, particularly after Civil Guards found a car near the southern Spanish town of Ayamonte loaded with more than 220 pounds of explosive material, detonators, timers and a bomb-making manual in the Basque language.

ETA, whose name stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom, has killed more than 800 people since 1968 in its campaign for a separate Basque state. It is classified as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.

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