US embassy, five other sites targeted by letter bombs in Spain

Explosive devices concealed in postal packages target the US and Ukrainian embassies, a weapons manufacturer and three Spanish government institutions.

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
Police officers stand outside Spain's defence ministry in Madrid [Juan Medina/Reuters]

The United States’ embassy in Madrid has received a letter similar to the five letter-bombs sent to the Ukrainian embassy to Spain and other targets in the country.

“We can confirm a suspicious package was received at the US Embassy in Madrid, and are aware of reports of other packages sent to other locations throughout Spain,” the embassy said in a response to an Associated Press news agency inquiry.

“We are grateful to Spanish law enforcement for their assistance with this matter,” it added.

Authorities cordoned off a wide area around the embassy, located in the centre of Spain’s capital.

Deputy Interior Minister Rafael Perez told reporters earlier on Thursday that the letter bombs received by five other offices, including the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid, a Spanish weapon manufacturer and three government institutions were sent from within the country.

“It appears that they were all sent from within the country but we are basing this on early visual inspections without yet having an in-depth technical report,” he said.

The interior ministry said on Thursday that an “envelope with pyrotechnic material” addressed to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had been received on November 24 and disarmed by his security team.

A “similar” package was received by the Ukrainian embassy on Wednesday was addressed to Ambassador Serhii Pohoreltsev and exploded when it was opened by a security official.

Another package was received on Wednesday night at the headquarters of Spanish weapons manufacturer Instalaza in Zaragoza, northeastern Spain, police said.

Instalaza manufactures the C90 rocket launcher that Spain has supplied to Ukraine.

Spanish security forces also found a device early on Thursday in an envelope mailed to a European Union satellite centre located at an air force base in Torrejon de Ardoz, near Madrid, the defence ministry said.

The satellite centre supports the EU’s common foreign and security policy by gathering information from space intelligence devices, according to its website, and was recently described by EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell as being part of “the eyes of Europe”.

A fifth device was received at Spain’s defence ministry on Thursday morning and defused by specialist police officers, a defence ministry spokesperson said.

The defence ministry package was addressed to Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles. Spain has contributed both military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.

Robles was visiting Ukraine on Thursday to support its defence effort with another aid package. Authorities did not provide details about the aid, saying they did not want to give away sensitive information to Russia’s forces.

Robles said the disturbing discoveries of recent days would have no effect on Spain’s full backing of Ukraine.

“The police are investigating these packages, but let one thing be perfectly clear,” she said in Spanish. “None of these packages or any other violent act will change the clear and firm support that Spain and other NATO and EU countries have for Ukraine.”

Russia’s reaction

The Russian Embassy in Spain posted a statement on Thursday condemning “any threat or terrorist act” in relation to the letter bombs.

“Any threat or terrorist act, particularly directed at a diplomatic mission, are to be totally condemned,” the statement said

Spain’s High Court has opened an investigation, according to a judicial source.

Ambassador Pohoreltsev told the Ukrainian news site European Pravda that the suspicious package addressed to him was handed to the embassy’s Ukrainian commandant who took it outside to open.

“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,” Pohoreltsev was quoted as saying.

Source: News Agencies