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US embassy targeted amid string of letter bombs in Spain

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Police officers cordon off the area next to the US embassy in Madrid, Spain, on December 1, 2022. (Photo by AP)

The embassy of the United States has been targeted by a letter bomb in Spain, officials say, following the discovery of a series of letter bombs in the European country.

On Thursday, Spanish officials said disposal experts managed to safely defuse a letter bomb sent via regular mail delivery to the embassy in Madrid earlier in the day. “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 US embassy told AP. “We are grateful to Spanish law enforcement for their assistance with this matter.”

This was the sixth such device sent to high-profile targets, including Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and the Ukrainian Embassy, in a wave that prompted Madrid to boost security at consulates and public administrative buildings, vowing not to be deterred from supporting Kiev.

The string began by a letter bomb to Sánchez on November 24. Since Wednesday, similar envelopes have been sent to the Ukrainian embassy, the defense ministry, an air force base, a weapons manufacturer. The one sent to the Ukrainian embassy exploded upon opening, slightly injuring a security officer.

“What must be very clear is that none of these deliveries or any other violent action will change the clear and firm commitment of Spain, NATO countries and the European Union to support Ukraine,” said Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles, who was visiting the Ukrainian port city of Odesa on Thursday and met her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov.

Following the incident at the Ukrainian embassy, Ukraine's Ambassador to Spain Serhii Pohoreltsev appeared to blame Russia for the attack, saying the embassy was instructed by Kiev to be "prepared for any kind of incident... Russian activities outside the country."

Russia, in response, strongly rejected such allegations and condemned the letter bombs as terrorist activities.

On Thursday, the Twitter account of the Russian embassy in Spain posted a statement denouncing "any threat or terrorist act" in relation to the five letter bombs, "particularly directed at a diplomatic mission."

The delivery of letter bombs across Madrid triggered road closures and traffic chaos around major diplomatic and public buildings.

According to Rafael Perez, Spain's junior minister responsible for security, the homemade devices were sent in brown packages containing “pyrotechnic material,” a flammable powder, and tripwire that would generate "sudden flames" rather than an explosion.

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