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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Spanish police arrest four suspected ETA members

Spanish police have arrested four suspected members of the armed Basque group ETA, Spanish media reported Tuesday.

The two men and two women were detained in raids carried out in the early hours of Tuesday in and around Bilbao, the online editions of El Pais and El Mundo reported citing unnamed anti-terrorism sources.

Police suspect the four, who had no prior criminal record, were part of an ETA cell that carried out several attacks, including one that killed the head of an anti-terrorism police unit in June 2009, the nespapers said.

Eduardo Puelles died instantly when a limpet bomb attached to his car exploded at a car park near his home in Arrigarriga, near Bilbao.

The police operation carried out on Tuesday was linked to the arrest in May 2010 in Bayonne in southwestern France of the suspected military leader of ETA, Spanish national Mikel Kabikoitz Karrera Sarobe, known as Ata.

During Sarobe's arrest police found documents linking the four detained on Tuesday to ETA, the newspapers said.

ETA on January 10 declared a "permanent and general ceasefire" to be verified by the international community.

It was the first unilateral declaration of a permanent ceasefire in ETA's campaign of bombings and shootings for a homeland independent of Spain, which has claimed the lives of 829 people.

But Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero rejected the declaration, saying he wants nothing less than ETA's dissolution.

ETA had announced a ceasefire in March 2006 within the framework of negotiations with Madrid. But nine months later, it set off a bomb in the car park of Madrid's airport, killing two men.

Spanish authorities believe their campaign against ETA in recent years, with dozens of arrests made in cooperation with forces in other countries, particularly France, has seriously weakened ETA's operational capacity.

The group has not staged an attack on Spanish soil since August 2009.

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