ETA political wing eyes 'permanent ceasefire': report
The banned political wing of the ETA Basque militant group, Batasuna, hopes the armed separatists will announce a permanent ceasefire in the coming months, a report said Monday.
Prominent Basque separatists have called in recent months for the question of independence to be solved peacefully, and a former leader of Batasuna has said he believes ETA will give up violence or be defeated.
Spanish newspaper Publico, quoting "informed sources" reported Monday that Batasuna had urged ETA to agree to a ceasefire, and that it would break ranks with the armed group to "show its disagreement" if it refuses.
Publico said ETA had yet to reach a decision, but that Batasuna "has high hopes" of a "permanent and verifiable ceasefire" to be declared in the course of the European summer.
Considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States, ETA is blamed for 829 deaths in its four-decade campaign for independence for the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France.
ETA announced a "permanent ceasefire" in March 2006 but months later reversed course and in December 2006 set off a bomb at a car park at Madrid's international airport.
After formally calling off peace process in June 2007, the Spanish government stepped up its campaign against ETA with arrests over the past three years of its leaders believed to have severely dented its operations.
Publico said that Batasuna, which has been banned from running for office since 2003 because of its ties to ETA, hoped to return to the political game ahead of local elections in 2011.
© 2010 AFP