ETA political leader arrested
4 October 2004, BORDEAUX- Anti-terrorist police arrested the political leader of Spain's armed Basque separatist group ETA in raids in France and Spain that resulted in arms caches and other suspected members being seized, officials said.
4 October 2004
BORDEAUX- Anti-terrorist police arrested the political leader of Spain's armed Basque separatist group ETA in raids in France and Spain that resulted in arms caches and other suspected members being seized, officials said.
French officials said Mikel "Antza" Albizu Iriarte and his partner, Soledad "Anboto" Iparragirre Genetxea, a suspected former military chief of ETA, were among 17 people arrested in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques region in southwestern France near the Spanish border, officials said late Sunday.
Arms caches were discovered in seven locations in the region as around 140 specialist officers, including members of France's anti-terrorist brigade and intelligence services, swooped on properties, France's interior ministry said.
Large amounts of explosives, documents and large sums of cash were seized.
Spanish anti-terrorist officials said 21 people had been arrested in the raids without explaining the variations in the arrest figures given.
Spanish Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso hailed the arrests as of major importance.
"It is an extremely important operation, one that we can certainly describe as historic," Alonso told reporters in Madrid.
The Spanish minister said that 700 kilograms (1,550 pounds) of dynamite and 500 kilograms of potassium chlorate, a common ingredient in explosives, had been seized in the raids.
According to a French police source, three underground arms caches were discovered in the towns of Saint-Pierre d'Irrube, Urrugne and Briscous, containing explosives, weapons and rocket launchers.
A smaller stockpile of weapons was found in Ayherre, while police found a number of documents in the town of Hendaye.
ETA has been blamed for the deaths of more than 800 people in its violent 36-year campaign for an independent Basque homeland comprising parts of northern Spain and south-western France.
It has long used parts of southern France as a rear base for its attacks in Spain, but has recently been weakened by coordinated operations by the two nations.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news