News24

Spain arrests 10 ETA activists

2011-01-18 17:34

Madrid - Spanish police early on Tuesday arrested 10 suspects linked to ETA in the first dragnet since the Basque separatist group declared a permanent ceasefire last week, the interior ministry said.

Police detained six people during the night in the northern Basque region for allegedly trying to reactivate the pro-ETA group Ekin, which authorities had already dismantled in September.

Among those arrested were Iker Moreno Ibanez, son of a former leader of ETA's banned political wing Batasuna and spokesperson for its militant offshoot.

The others are suspected of providing IT support to ETA and involvement in underground meetings of Ekin as leaders of outlawed ETA-related groups.

The operation is the first since the Basque separatist movement declared a "permanent and general ceasefire" to be verified by the international community on January 10.

The latest operation illustrates the government's pursuit of "anti-terrorist policies", said Jusice Minister Francisco Caamano.

"We are going to continue working (against ETA) as has been the case until today," he added.

Spanish authorities believe ETA has been severely weakened after several raids on its leadership in northern Spain and France repeatedly decapitated the group. There has been no attack on Spanish soil since August 2009.

The January 10 declaration 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.

ETA released a series of statements in September last year proposing an end to violence and calling for international mediation. But the Spanish government dismissed them, insisting on a definitive, verifiable ceasefire without conditions and the group's dissolution.