Basque terrorist group’s new chief held in France

December 9th, 2008 - 2:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, Dec 9 (IANS) French security forces have arrested three suspected members of the Basque terrorist group, ETA, including the man believed to be the outfit’s military commander, EFE news agency reported Tuesday. Aitzol Iriondo, thought to have assumed command of ETA’s military wing following last month’s arrest of Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu in France, has been held along with two others, Eneko Zarrabeitia and Asier Borrero, France’s Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said.

The latest arrests took place around 6:00 a.m. Monday in the southwestern town of Gerde.

In a statement, Alliot-Marie also congratulated the officers who detained the suspects, including the “presumed successor of Txeroki (Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu)” as chief of the terrorist group’s military wing.

Expressing her satisfaction over the arrests, the minister said the arrests once again showed “the firm commitment of France’s police and Gendarmerie to the war against Basque terrorism”.

ETA, an acronym for the Basque language words for Homeland and Freedom, has killed more than 850 people since taking up arms in 1968 to seek a Basque nation comprising parts of northern Spain and southern France.

Since the beginning of the year, ETA has staged a series of attacks on different targets in Spain and killed four people.

The group has carried out nearly two dozen attacks since June 5, 2007, when it ended its unilateral ceasefire.

Most observers, however, regarded the December 2006 attack at the Madrid airport as marking the end of the terrorist group’s ceasefire.

The terrorist group had declared a “permanent ceasefire” in March 2006 in an apparent attempt to negotiate peace with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s government.

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