Letter bombs sent to Spain’s prime minister and US embassy in Madrid

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez - J C HIDALGO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez - J C HIDALGO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Bomb disposal experts defused a letter bomb at the US embassy in Madrid on Thursday, one of at least six sent to high-profile targets apparently related to support for Ukraine.

The bomb was later detonated in a controlled explosion by Spanish police.

Five other devices were sent to various targets in the country, including one sent to the Ukrainian embassy that ignited, injuring a security officer, while the office of Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish prime minister, also received a letter bomb.

According to Spain’s interior ministry, a suspicious package sent by ordinary mail and addressed to Mr Sánchez was “detected and neutralised” in a controlled explosion by the security department at the prime minister’s official residence on November 24.

“The letters and their contents were similar in the five cases,” said Rafael Pérez, Spain’s secretary of state for security.

Mr Pérez said the five packages consisted of brown envelopes with what appeared to be incendiary mechanisms inside. He said they were designed to produce flames, rather than an explosion.

“There is evidence that they were sent from within Spain,” he added.

Ukraine embassy in Madrid - OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images
Ukraine embassy in Madrid - OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

On Thursday morning, security staff at the defence ministry in Madrid detected a package containing an incendiary device, which was safely destroyed.

The defence ministry said Spanish security forces had also intercepted a letter bomb at an air force base in Torrejón de Ardoz, outside Madrid.

Mr Pérez said the device intercepted at the air base was deactivated without being destroyed, something which could help investigators to trace the origin of the incendiary material inside.

On Wednesday, an incendiary device was discovered at Zaragoza-based weapons manufacturer Instalaza, which manufactures the C90 grenade launcher that Spain has supplied to Ukraine.

Margarita Robles, the Spanish defence minister, who was visiting the Ukrainian port city of Odesa on Thursday, said the letter bombs would not deter Spain from supporting Ukraine's "just cause".

Spain’s National Court is investigating the wave of letter bombs as possible crimes of terrorism.

The interior ministry said it had ordered an increase to security measures at public buildings, especially relating to mail services.

The ministry also said it had ordered a boost to security surrounding diplomatic missions in the country.

Russia’s embassy in Spain said: “Any threat or terrorist act, especially directed against a diplomatic mission, are totally condemnable.”