Zapatero warns ETA after terrorists gun heist

26th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

26 October 2006, MADRID — Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said it was "probable" ETA was behind the robbery of 350 guns in France and he warned it "will have consequences."

26 October 2006

MADRID — Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said it was "probable" ETA was behind the robbery of 350 guns in France and he warned it "will have consequences."

At a joint press conference in Madrid with Belgian premier Guy Verhofstadt, Zapatero said that people need to wait to know the full scope of the investigation into the Monday robbery reveals, but he said "it's probable that it is ETA".

"With this proviso, I will say that the deed is serious ... that it will have consequences at the proper time. We're not going to rush ourselves, but it will have consequences," he added.

On Monday, several armed men stole some 350 handguns, and a sizable amount of ammunition, from a weapons-import firm in Vauvert, 20 kilometres from Nimes.

The method used to gain access to the guns - the kidnapping of three relatives of the import firm's female manager to force her to open the warehouse - the use of handcuffs stolen in March from French police by ETA and the Spanish accents of the robbers have led investigators to attribute the heist to the militant group.

On 22 March, ETA declared a 'permanent ceasefire', and in June Zapatero announced the start of talks with the Basque group.

Earlier, in May 2005, the lower house of Spain's parliament authorized the premier to open a dialogue with ETA if it renounced its use of arms.

At the press conference, Zapatero also made reference to the support the European Parliament gave on Wednesday to the "peace initiative in the Basque Country" after a tense and hard-fought vote.

The vote in the European Union's legislature was 321 in favour to 311 against. Twenty-four deputies abstained.

ETA, an acronym for the Basque language words for Homeland and Freedom, has killed 817 people since taking up arms in 1968 to seek a Basque nation comprising parts of northern Spain and southern France.

The group has employed car bombs and sidewalk assassinations of military and police personnel, as well as politicians, journalists and government officials.

The Basque Country enjoys significant autonomy and is governed by the PNV, a moderate nationalist party that, like the great majority of Basques, rejects ETA and terrorist violence.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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