Major swoop against ETA in SW France

4th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

MADRID, Oct 4 (AFP) - Spain on Monday expressed further satisfaction at the arrests in France of 17 suspected Basque extremists, saying that the neighbouring country had made hunting down members of the underground ETA group a top priority.

MADRID, Oct 4 (AFP) - Spain on Monday expressed further satisfaction at the arrests in France of 17 suspected Basque extremists, saying that the neighbouring country had made hunting down members of the underground ETA group a top priority.  

"The French have made it into an affair of state," Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said on the Cadena Sur radio station.  

"They have decided to fight the ETA terrorist group 100 percent," he added, explaining the result by "excellent relations between France and Spain, both on the political and the operational levels."  

The statement came the day after French officials reported the arrest of 17 people including Mikel "Antza" Albizu Iriarte, ETA's political leader, and his partner, Soledad "Anboto" Iparragirre Genetxea, a suspected former military chief of the group, in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques region near the Spanish border.  

Arms caches were discovered in seven locations in the region as around 140 specialist officers, including members of France's anti-terrorist brigade and intelligence services, swooped on properties, France's interior ministry said on Sunday.  

Large amounts of explosives, documents and money were seized.  

French Justice Minister Dominique Perben characterised Sunday's operation as "a great battle won in the war against terrorism... a very fine operation: a political leader, 16 accomplices, arms caches, sophisticated equipment."  

In Monday's statement Alonso also said that operations to detain ETA activists were continuing in Spain. Spanish officials said that a total of 21 suspected guerrillas were detained in all over the weekend, implying that four had been seized on the Spanish side of the border.  

The Basque country straddles the two countries, comprising a large region of northern Spain and part of southwest France.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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