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Ukraine embassy worker in Spain injured by letter bomb

A security guard at Ukraine's embassy in Madrid was slightly injured on Wednesday while opening a letter bomb addressed to the Ukrainian ambassador, prompting Kyiv to boost security at its embassies.

Ukraine embassy worker in Spain injured by letter bomb
Spanish policemen stand next to an Ukrainian flag while securing the area after a letter bomb explosion at the Ukraine's embassy in Madrid on November 30, 2022. - An employee of Ukraine's embassy in Madrid was "lightly" injured on November 30 when a letter bomb blew up as he handled it, a police source said. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

The letter, which arrived by regular post, exploded as the guard opened it in the embassy garden, said the central government’s representative in Madrid, Mercedes Gonzalez.

“Fortunately it was not serious, the person has a small injury to his right hand. The letter was addressed to the ambassador,” she said during an interview with TV station Telemadrid.

A police source said the man had been “lightly” injured and “went himself to a hospital” for treatment.

Spain’s National Police force were informed at around 1:00 pm (1200 GMT) of an explosion at the Ukranian embassy in Madrid, the source added.

A security cordon was put in place by the police around the embassy, located in a leafy residential area in northern Madrid.

A man who lives in front of the embassy, who asked not to be identified, told AFP that he had stepped out to walk his dogs and now police were preventing him from returning home.

“I heard it, I thought it was gunshot. It was not too loud,” he said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ordered the strengthening of security at all Ukrainian embassies, Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said on social media after the letter bomb went off.

Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares has spoken with Ukraine’s ambassador to Spain by telephone “to ask about the well-being of the Ukrainian worker who was injured,” the Spanish foreign ministry said in a statement.

Albares also contacted Kuleba by telephone to express his “support and solidarity”, it added.

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CRIME

Spain jails letterbomb suspect to avoid ‘flight to Russia’

The pensioner who allegedly sent letter bombs to Spain's prime minister and the Ukrainian embassy was placed in pre-trial detention on Friday on grounds he could flee to "Russian territory".

Spain jails letterbomb suspect to avoid 'flight to Russia'

The 74-year-old, arrested on Wednesday at his home near the northern town of Burgos, appeared before a judge at the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s top criminal court, facing one charge of terrorism, court documents showed.

He is accused of having sent six letter bombs to targets including Spanish ministers and embassies to push Madrid into halting support for Kyiv in the fight against Russia’s invasion.

READ ALSO: Spain detains suspect over letter bombs sent to PM, Ukraine embassy

The home-made devices were sent in late November and early December to Spain’s prime minister and defence minister, the Ukrainian and US embassies, the European Union Satellite Centre near Madrid and to a Spanish arms manufacturer in the northeastern city of Zaragoza.

In his ruling, the judge said the suspect sought to “force” the Spanish authorities to “refrain from supporting Ukraine in the face of Russia’s aggression”, which made him a flight risk.”

The importance of his violent actions as a means of propaganda for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could facilitate his flight to Russian territory with help from Russian citizens,” the judge concluded

If convicted, the suspect could face up to 20 years in jail on terror offences.

But the judge said there were no indications of his involvement “with any other terrorist group.”

Nobody was killed by the devices but a Ukrainian embassy staffer sustained light injuries while opening one of the packages.

At the suspect’s home, investigators found a workshop containing soldering equipment, tools, metal parts and screws compatible with the letter bombs sent, and indications of preparatory work to construct more, the interior ministry said.

A Russian-directed operation?

The suspect was “very active on social networks” and had “technical and computer expertise”, it said.

Investigators had determined the letters were sent by the same person and found three of them were posted from Burgos, the ministry added.

They then narrowed it down by an “exhaustive analysis” of the stamps, envelopes and parts used to build the devices.

The suspect’s arrest followed a New York Times report which said Russian military intelligence officers had “directed” associates of a Russia-based white supremacist group to carry out the campaign in Spain.

Investigators suspect the radical Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) — which is thought to have ties to Russian intelligence and has associates across Europe — is behind the letter bomb campaign.

“Important members of the group have been in Spain and the police there have tracked its ties with far-right Spanish organisations,” the newspaper said.

After the embassy attack, Ukraine’s ambassador to Spain, Serhii Pohoreltsev, pointed the finger at Russia and Kyiv ramped up security at its embassies around the world.

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