( AFP ) - The armed separatist group ETA has called on Basques to boycott the polls during the Spanish general election on March 9, two separatist Basque newspapers said Friday on their websites.
In a statement from the outfit which will be published in full on Saturday, the periodical Gara quoted: "ETA called for the abstention and boycott (of the elections) to give a response as a people" to the alleged repression of Basques separatists by the Spanish central government.
The record of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's socialist government - who have a slim but steady lead in the polls - in opening then closing an attempted dialogue with the armed group has been one line of attack during the election campaign by the Conservative opposition.
By taking part in the election, Basque regional parties "were doing nothing more than legitimizing the repressive legislation which stems from the Spanish constitution," the website quoted the ETA statement as saying.
The election will "mark a new period of oppression" in the Basque Country, which separatists say includes northeastern Spain and parts of southwestern France, it added.
The statement was also sent to Basque newspaper Berria, which also said it would publish it on Saturday.
Both newspapers are regularly used by ETA, which has killed 819 people in Spain in its nearly 40-year campaign for an independent Basque homeland, as a mouthpiece.
The statement emerges after a bomb went off in the doorway of the ruling Socialist party headquarters in the Basque town of Derio in the early hours of Friday after emergency services received a warning call in the name of ETA.
No one was injured.
On February 23, one day after the election campaign officially got underway, another ETA bomb went off at the foot of a television mast near the city of Bilbao, the Basque region's financial centre.
"We believe ETA will try to kill before the elections," Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba warned just before the start of the campaign.
ETA's outlawed political arm, Batasuna, as well as two small Basque separatist parties, ANV and PCTV, had already called for an abstention in the polls.
Earlier this month Spain's Supreme Court banned ANV and PCTV from fielding candidates in the election because it considered them to be fronts for Batasuna, which was outlawed in 2003.
Opinion polls give Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialists a lead over the main opposition conservative Popular Party in the election race where the government's failed peace talks with ETA is a key issue.
Zapatero launched a dialogue with ETA in June 2006, three months after it declared a "permanent" ceasefire, but the talks did not produce concrete results.
ETA in December 2006 bombed a car park at Madrid's airport killing two men - its first deadly attack since 2003 - saying it had grown frustrated with the lack of concessions in the peace talks on the part of the government.
It formally called off its ceasefire in June 2007 and since then Spanish authorities have adopted a hard line against it, detaining dozens of suspected members of ETA and its banned political wing Batasuna in Spain and France.
Zapatero has ruled out any new dialogue with ETA if he is re-elected.
"Those who use violence, who shelter or support it cannot form part of democracy," Zapatero told a rally in the Basque seaside resort city of San Sebastian earlier this month.
During most of Zapatero's first term in office, the opposition conservatives accused his government of being too soft on terrorists.