Spain hails French capture of suspected ETA chief

20th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Spain hailed the arrest in France Thursday of the suspected military chief of the Basque separatist group ETA as a "very significant" operation.

French anti-terrorist police detained Mikel Karrera Sarobe and two other suspected ETA members, all Spanish nationals, in a raid on a house in the southwestern French city of Bayonne at daybreak, French police sources said.

"It's a very significant operation, but we must let it finish" before commenting further, Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told reporters.

The minister is expected to reveal further details of the arrests at a press conference later Thursday.

Cooperation between Madrid and Paris has in the past two years led to the arrests of five top ETA leaders in France, which the group has long used as a rear base from which to stage attacks in Spain.

Karrera Sarobe was identified as ETA's new military leader on a revised most-wanted list issued by Spanish police on March 16 in their pursuit of ETA militants.

The Basque news agency Vasco Press said the second man arrested was Arkaitz Aguirregabiria del Barrio, who is linked to the murder of a French police officer in the Paris region in March.

ETA -- classified as a terrorist group by the European Union, and held responsible for the deaths of 829 people in a violent campaign for Basque independence -- has not carried out attacks on Spanish soil since August 2009.

© 2010 AFP

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