Key ETA member arrested in France

24th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

MADRID, March 23 (AFP) - French police on Thursday arrested two suspected members of armed Basque separatist group ETA near the Spanish border, one a leading figure in the organisation, Spanish interior ministry sources said.

MADRID, March 23 (AFP) - French police on Thursday arrested two suspected members of armed Basque separatist group ETA near the Spanish border, one a leading figure in the organisation, Spanish interior ministry sources said.

The sources said Jose Segurola Querejeta, who Spanish and French police picked up in a joint operation at Lannemezan near the city of Tarbes, some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the border, was "one of ETA's leading military figures.

The Spanish ministry said he was hauled in along with fellow ETA suspect Miren Itxaso Saldua Iriberri.

Ministry sources said the arrests came as part of Operation Jail, a crackdown on ETA in southwestern France and added they would give further details in a new conference on Thursday morning.

Police moved in on Segurola as he parked his car.

When arrested he was found to be in possession of a 9mm pistol, ammunition and false papers, while a 38mm firearm was found on Saldua, who likewise had ammunition and false documents on her.

Police were investigating the contents of several plastic bags in the pair's vehicle which contained a substance believed to be explosives.

The bags also contained false number plates and tools to break into vehicles, the statement said.

Earlier this month, ETA claimed responsibility for eight attacks in January and February, saying they were aimed at Spanish economic interests and politicians it claims are impeding a settlement to their separatist conflict.

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

The last fatal attack the group carried out was in May 2003.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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