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Suspicious envelope found at US Embassy in Spain amid probe

The US embassy in Madrid received a letter-bomb similar to what was sent to the Ukrainian embassy to Spain

Police officers stand outside Spain's Ministry of Defense after suspected explosive devices hidden in envelopes were mailed to the ministry, in the wake other packages sent to targets connected to Spanish support of Ukraine, amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Madrid, Spain December 1, 2022. (REUTERS/Juan Medina)

Explosive devices concealed in postal packages were discovered at Spain’s Defense Ministry, a satellite center at an air base and an arms factory that makes grenades sent to Ukraine, Spanish authorities said Thursday, a day after a similar package exploded at the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid.

Authorities also said that a similar explosive device was dispatched by regular post to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Nov. 24, but was disposed of by bomb squad experts. The latest discoveries raise to five the number of explosive devices that were sent by post around the country over the past few days.

The Russian embassy in Madrid on Thursday condemned the letter bombs, saying in a tweet that “any threat or terrorist attack, especially those directed at diplomatic missions, are totally condemnable.” The package dispatched to the Ukrainian embassy and addressed to the ambassador slightly injured an employee when it burst into flames while he was handling it.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba quickly ordered that security be stepped up at all Ukrainian embassies abroad and has asked his Spanish counterpart for a speedy investigation. Spain’s National Court is investigating the incident as a terrorist act and extra security has been assigned to the Ukrainian embassy.

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Police said all but one of the four letter bombs were disposed of. Interior Ministry State Secretary for Security Rafael Pérez said police were using the one intact explosive device and its package that was sent to the air base to assist investigators.He said an initial assessment was that all five packages were likely sent from within Spain.

Pérez said that security has been stepped up at public buildings following the discovery of the package that was sent to Sánchez. This has now been extended to embassies, which already have extra security measures in place since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

The Defense Ministry package had been addressed to minister Margarita Robles, Pérez said. Spain has contributed both military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.

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The arms factory, located in the northeastern city of Zaragoza, makes grenade launchers that Spain has sent to Ukraine. The parcel was addressed to the factory’s director. A government official in Zaragoza said that both the arms factory and Ukrainian embassy packages had the same email address listed as the sender. No further details were given.

Officials said extra security forces have been deployed at the Torrejón de Ardoz base, just east of Madrid. They said the package was sent to the director of the base’s European Union Satellite Center. The sending of small explosive devices in postal parcels is not uncommon in many countries. They were common occurrence for many years in Spain, especially during the most active years of the now defunct armed Basque group.

First published on: 01-12-2022 at 19:36 IST
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