MADRID — Spanish officials have tightened security measures at consulates and public administrative buildings across the country after at least six letter bombs were sent to several offices, including those of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and the US and Ukrainian embassies.
An envelope sent by regular mail to Mr. Sánchez’s office was intercepted by the security services on November 24 because it appeared to contain “pyrotechnic material”, the Spanish Interior Ministry said on Thursday.
It came after national police said they were investigating a letter bomb delivered to the Ukrainian embassy that exploded on Wednesday, injuring the finger of an employee inspecting it.
Since then, three other letter bombs containing similar material have been detected, Rafael Pérez, Spain’s Secretary of State for State Security, told a press conference in Madrid on Thursday.
“The protective measures worked, except in the case of the Ukrainian embassy, and injuries were avoided,” Pérez told the conference.
Mr Pérez did not give a specific motive, but he said Spain’s national court was investigating the incidents on Thursday as possible acts of terrorism and urged “caution”.
After the press conference, the Interior Ministry told The New York Times that another letter bomb had been sent to the US Embassy in Madrid and was safely detonated.
The United States Embassy confirmed that a suspicious package had been received there and that it was aware of reports of other packages being sent elsewhere in Spain. “We thank Spanish law enforcement for their assistance in this situation,” the embassy said in a statement.
Increased security measures will vary but will include more patrols and security guards, and specific alerts for couriers to screen mail more carefully, the Home Office said in a separate statement.
The package that arrived at the Ukrainian embassy on Wednesday was addressed to Serhii Pohoreltsev, Ukraine’s ambassador to Spain, and Ukrainian officials said it exploded as the embassy director checked the mail. The director was treated at a hospital for a minor injury to his right hand before being released.
Another letter bomb was sent to the headquarters of Instalaza, a Spanish company that manufactures weapons and military equipment, some of which is used to aid Ukrainian forces.
Spanish police cleared Instalaza’s headquarters in the city of Zaragoza and sent bomb disposal teams to carry out a controlled detonation of the letter bomb.
A fourth letter bomb, addressed to the director of the European Union Satellite Centre, which provides security analysis for the bloc and is hosted at an air base near a suburb northeast of Madrid, was detected early Thursday . Another letter, addressed to the Spanish Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, was intercepted Thursday morning at the Madrid headquarters of the Ministry of Defense.
Early indications suggested the envelopes had been sent from Spanish territory, Pérez said, and Spanish police were analyzing the packages for fingerprints and DNA, and performing handwriting tests.
With tensions high over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Embassy condemned the letter bombs on Thursday.
“Any threat of a terrorist act, a fortiori directed against a diplomatic mission, is totally reprehensible”, the embassy posted on Twitter.
The Ukrainian Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba ordered all of his country’s embassies abroad to tighten security.
Jose Bautista reported from Madrid, and Isabelle Kwai from London.