Suspected explosive device hidden in envelope mailed to the U.S. Embassy in Madrid

Suspicious package exploded at US Embassy in Madrid after Ukraine Embassy explosion

MADRID (AP) — Spanish police detonated a suspicious package discovered at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spanish officials said Thursday, a day after a similar package sent to the Ukrainian Embassy s burst into flames upon opening and injured an employee.

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

“We are grateful to Spanish law enforcement for their assistance in this case,” he added.

Spanish police said the exploded package “contained substances similar to those used in pyrotechnics”.

The action followed police reporting that several explosive packages were sent to Spain in the past two days. Police said they were delivered to the Spanish Defense Ministry, a European Union satellite center at Torrejón de Ardoz air base near Madrid and an arms factory in northeastern Madrid. Spain which manufactures pomegranates sent to Ukraine.

Authorities said a bomb disposal team also destroyed an explosive device that was sent by regular mail to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on November 24.

Spain’s Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the country’s police force, said the envelope intercepted at the US embassy security checkpoint had “similar characteristics to the previous ones”. It was then triggered by authorities after a large area was cordoned off by Spanish police around the embassy in the center of the Spanish capital.

Spanish authorities have yet to determine who was responsible for the letters or link them to the war in Ukraine.

The Russian Embassy in Madrid condemned the letter bombs on Thursday, saying in a tweet that “any terrorist threat or attack, especially those directed against diplomatic missions, is totally condemnable.”

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The parcel sent to the Ukrainian embassy was addressed to the country’s ambassador to Spain, Serhii Pohoreltsev. The employee handling it was slightly injured when it caught fire.

In an interview on Wednesday after the explosion, Ambassador Pohoreltsev told European Pravda, a news site linked to the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper, that the explosion could have been more serious had it not been for the professional behavior of the employee. hurt.

He said the package looked suspicious to the ambassador’s secretary because it had no return address and did not look like a typical diplomatic post.

“The package contained a box, which aroused suspicion with the commander and he decided to take it outside – with no one nearby – and open it. After opening the box and hearing a click that followed, he threw it away and then heard the explosion,” the ambassador said.

The embassy worker was treated for minor hand injuries and later returned to work.
The Spanish National Court is investigating the incident as a terrorist act.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ordered increased security at all Ukrainian embassies abroad and asked his Spanish counterpart for a prompt investigation.

Two other Ukrainian embassies received threatening letters on Wednesday, Kuleba said on the sidelines of a high-level security meeting in Lodz, Poland, on Thursday.

Kuleba added, without giving details, that “other disturbing events took place” on Wednesday, involving “the sending of very concrete threats to Ukrainian embassies”. He declined to specify the embassies in question.

An initial assessment indicated that the first five packages were likely sent from Spain, said Secretary of State for Security Rafael Pérez. Police said all but one of the letter bombs had been cleared.

Pérez said the only intact explosive device came from the air base and that it and its packaging will be part of the investigation.

Officials said the package was sent to the director of the European Union Satellite Center. The center, known as SatCen, is an EU geospatial intelligence agency, and its missions include surveillance of Ukraine.

“Spanish authorities were immediately alerted, they safely deactivated the package and they started their investigations,” said Nabila Massrali, EU spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy.
“No one was injured and the situation is under control.

The Defense Ministry file was sent to Defense Minister Margarita Robles, Pérez said. Spain has provided military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.

Robles was visiting Ukraine on Thursday to support its defense effort with another aid package.

Authorities did not provide details of the aid, saying they did not want to give sensitive information to Russian forces.

Robles said the disturbing findings of recent days would have no effect on Spain’s full support for Ukraine.

“The police are investigating these packages, but let’s be absolutely 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.”

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The targeted arms factory is located in the city of Zaragoza, in the northeast of the country. The package was addressed to the factory manager.

A government official in Zaragoza said packages from the arms factory and the Ukrainian embassy had the same email address listed as the sender. No other details were given.

Sending small explosive devices in parcel post is not uncommon in many countries. They were commonplace for many years in Spain, especially during the most active years of the now defunct Basque armed group ETA.

Pérez said security had been tightened in public buildings following the discovery of the package sent to the Spanish prime minister. This decision has now been extended to embassies, which had already put in place additional security measures after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

Joseph Wilson in Barcelona, ​​Spain, and Joanna Kozlowska in London contributed to this report.

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