9 September 1997: Rincón locals take to the streets to protest against ETA

The mayor and a councillor for the Axarquía town were the targets of the Basque terrorist group's assassination attempts

SHAY CONAGHAN

On 9 September 1997 the residents of Rincón de la Victoria flooded the streets of the Axarquía town in protest at the attempted assassination of mayor José María Gómez and councillor for Urban Development Francisco Robles the day before.

The politicians, both members of the conservative Partido Popular party, avoided the attacks thanks to eagle-eyed citizens. The first bomb to be spotted was the one on councillor Robles' van, which had two oddly shaped boxes strapped to the front wheel. The Guardia Civil were called into action and the device exploded the moment the bomb disposal robot touched it.

The second bomb, intended for Gómez, was seen on his car by a local baker, who caught a glimpse of a weird device taped to its underfloor. That bomb was also detonated by the Guardia Civil.

The mass demonstration the following day gathered some 6,000 people in Rincón de la Victoria, according to police sources, as residents showed their anger at the attempted attacks.

Protesters marched some 1.2 kilometres between a local church and the fort at 8pm that evening. They did so in complete silence while holding up a sign that read "For Freedom and Against Terrorism."

Once at the fort, mayor Gómez read a manifesto in favour of peace as the protesters chanted "Freedom without anger."

High-ranking local, provincial, regional and national politicians of all ideologies could be seen at the head of the march; as well as the thousands of members of the local community.

Javier Arenas, Spain's minister for Work and Social Affairs, said of the march: "It is bringing to light that we democrats are united against violence."

The attempted assassination in Rincón de la Victoria came two months after ETA killed Miguel Ángel Blanco, which was one of the most high-profile murders that came from the conflict with the Basque terrorist group.