MADRID, Dec. 1 (Reuters) – Spain has stepped up security at public and diplomatic buildings after a spate of letter bombs was sent to targets including Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the Ukrainian embassy, the interior ministry said on Thursday.
The ministry said that on Nov. 24, an “envelope containing pyrotechnic material” addressed to Sanchez was received and disarmed by his security team.
The device was “similar” to later packages received by the Ukrainian embassy and a Spanish arms firm on Wednesday, it said, and one intercepted from Spain’s Torrejon de Ardoz air base in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The first letter bomb was received and opened by a Ukrainian embassy security officer on Wednesday afternoon and exploded, slightly injuring the official.
Ambassador Serhii Pohoreltsev told Ukrainian news site European Pravda that the suspicious package was handed to him by the Ukrainian embassy commander.
“The package contained a box, which aroused the commander’s suspicion and he decided to take it out – without anyone around – and open it,” said Pohoreltsev.
“After opening the box and hearing a click that followed, he threw it and then heard the explosion… Despite not holding the box at the time of the explosion, the commander hurt his hands and suffered a concussion. “
EU SATELLITE CENTER ALSO TARGETED
After the first incident, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ordered all Kyiv’s embassies abroad to strengthen security “with urgency” and urged Spain to investigate the attack, a spokesman for the Ukrainian ministry said.
A second package was confirmed Wednesday evening at the headquarters of Spanish arms manufacturer Instalaza in Zaragoza, northeast Spain, police said.
Instalaza produces the C90 missile launcher that Spain supplied to Ukraine.
Spanish security forces found a third suspected explosive device hidden in an envelope sent to a European Union satellite center at an air base in Torrejon de Ardoz, outside Madrid, the defense ministry said.
After scanning the envelope with X-rays, Air Force security agents determined that there was “a mechanism” inside, the ministry statement said.
The satellite center supports the EU’s common foreign and security policy by collecting information from space intelligence equipment, the website said. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described such systems as “the eyes of Europe” in September.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that another device had been sent to Spain’s Ministry of Defense in Madrid, but this has not yet been confirmed by authorities.
Spain’s Supreme Court, which specializes in terrorism, has opened an investigation into the attack.
Reporting by Inti Landauro, Belen Carreno and Emma Pinedo; Written by Inti Landauro and Aislinn Laing, edited by Alison Williams and Alex Richardson
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