ETA suspects arrested in France

29th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

TOULOUSE, France, April 28 (AFP) - French police on Thursday arrested two members of the armed Basque separatist group ETA, including one of the group's military leaders, in southwest France, police said.

TOULOUSE, France, April 28 (AFP) - French police on Thursday arrested two members of the armed Basque separatist group ETA, including one of the group's military leaders, in southwest France, police said.  

Spain's Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso identified one of the two as Pedro Esquisabel Urtuzaga, an "important member" of the group, believed to hold a high position in ETA's military structure.  

A French police official confirmed the arrest of two men including an ETA "big fish", in the joint operation carried out by regional and anti-terrorist police in Caussade, north of the south-western city of Toulouse.  

The arrest took place in the street and passed off without incident, said the official, who did not say whether the suspects were armed at the time.  

The two men have been taken for questioning in Toulouse.  

Speaking in parliament, Spain's interior minister hailed the "excellent cooperation" between French and Spanish police, that has recently led to the arrest of a string of militants.  

ETA is blamed for more than 800 deaths in its four-decade campaign for an independent Basque state covering parts of northern Spain and southwest France.  

The Basque news agency Vasco press described Urtuzaga as a lieutenant of ETA's political leader, Mikel Albizu Iriarte, alias "Antza", who was arrested in the French Pyrenees in October last year.  

According to the Europa Press news agency, Urtuzaga was in charge of ETA's international operations.  

The Spanish interior ministry named the second suspected ETA member as Jose Manuel Ugartemendia Isasa.  

The mayor of Caussade, Yvon Collin, hailed the work of the anti-terrorist forces and local police, who he said had been "on the lookout for several days based on credible evidence."  

A source close to the investigation said police had been alerted several days ago by town officials in Caussade, who had found a suspect bag apparently forgotten in a local laundrette.  

Europa Press said the bag contained a firearm and forged identity papers.   Police put the establishment under surveillance and picked up the two suspects when they returned to pick up the bag.  

The two men had been living in a rented house in the village of Lavaurette outside Caussade, according to a source close to the inquiry.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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