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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

General Shot Dead in Spain, ETA Blamed

MADRID -- A Spanish army general was shot dead as he left his Madrid home on Wednesday morning in what officials saw as a new attempt by Basque separatists of ETA to grab headlines in the run-up to European Parliament elections. General Juan Jose Hernandez Rovira, 58, who was widowed with seven children, was shot in the head, neck and chest at point-blank range by a man and a woman. He was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. About an hour later a car believed to have been used by the killers to make their escape at the height of the morning rush hour exploded in a nearby street. No one was hurt in the blast because police had cleared the area, which houses two children's nurseries. Although ETA, or Basque Homeland and Freedom, made no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, police said they were working on the assumption the Basques were behind it. ETA has regularly targeted members of the security forces in a 25-year campaign of violence for an independent Basque state. About 800 people have been killed in related incidents. Hernandez Rovira was the 17th soldier of general-officer rank killed by ETA since then prime minister Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco was assassinated by a big bomb in Madrid in 1973. The latest killing was ETA's third attack in the past nine days. Spain is undergoing a hard-fought political campaign before voting for European Parliament seats June 12.