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Ukraine embassy, Spanish arms company receive letter bombs -police

World Nov 30, 2022 08:59PM ET
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5/5 © Reuters. Police stands outside of Ukrainian embassy after, Spanish police said, blast at embassy building injured one employee while handling a letter, in Madrid, Spain November 30, 2022. REUTERS/Juan Medina 2/5

MADRID/KYIV (Reuters) -Police in Spain are examining a possible link between two letter bombs sent to the Ukrainian ambassador in Madrid and to an arms company that manufactures rocket launchers donated to Kyiv, they confirmed in a statement on Wednesday.

In the first incident, an officer at Ukraine's embassy in Madrid was injured when he opened a letter bomb addressed to the ambassador, prompting Kyiv to order greater security at all its representative offices abroad.

The letter, which arrived by regular mail and was not scanned, caused "a very small wound" on one finger when an officer opened it in the embassy garden, Mercedes Gonzalez, a Spanish government official, told broadcaster Telemadrid.

Ambassador Serhii Pohoreltsev told the Ukrainian news site European Pravda that the suspicious package addressed to him was handed to the embassy's commandant, a Ukrainian staff member.

"The package contained a box, which raised the commandant's suspicions and he decided to take it outside – with no one in the vicinity – and open it," Pohoreltsev was quoted as saying.

"After opening the box and hearing a click that followed, he tossed it and then heard the explosion...Despite not holding the box at the time of the explosion, the commandant hurt his hands and received a concussion."

Hours later, an arms company in Zaragoza, northeastern Spain, received a similar package, police confirmed.

The government representative in Zaragoza, Rosa Serrano, said in an interview with the SER station that the two envelopes appeared to have the same sender, since the same e-mail address was written on the back of both of them. Serrano said the packages came from Ukraine and this is what alarmed the arms company, which called the police.

The arms company is Instalaza, the manufacturer of the C90 rocket launcher that Spain donates to Ukraine.

SECURITY TIGHTENED

After the first incident, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ordered all of Kyiv's embassies abroad to "urgently" strengthen security and urged Spain to take investigate the attack, a ministry spokesperson said.

The Ukrainian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the second incident.

Ambassador Pohoreltsev told TVE later that he was working as usual at the embassy "with no fear".

"We have instructions from the ministry in Ukraine that given the situation we have to be prepared for any kind of incident... any kind of Russian activities outside the country," he said.

Russia invaded Ukraine nine months ago in what it calls a "special military operation" that Kyiv and the West describe as an unprovoked, imperialist land grab.

Spain's High Court has opened a probe into the attack as a possible case of terrorism, a judicial source said.

Police carried out a contained explosion in the factory and the incident reported no damage, according to the same media.

The envelope that was sent to Zaragoza was 10 x 15 cm and an X-ray showed the explosive charge with a wire line ready to be activated when the envelope was opened, Serrano said.

Correos, the Spanish state-run postal company, told Reuters it is cooperating with the investigation.

The residential area surrounding the embassy in northwestern Madrid was cordoned off and a bomb disposal unit was deployed to the scene, as well as the area around the Zaragoza factory.

Ukraine embassy, Spanish arms company receive letter bombs -police
 

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