Two ETA suspects detained in France
Two men claiming to be ETA members were arrested when riding bicycles in southwest France.13 November 2008
FOIX - French police on Wednesday arrested two suspected Basque ETA militants who were armed and riding bicycles in southwest France, a local prosecutor said.
They were picked up in the village of Tarascon-sur-Ariege, near the Spanish border, said deputy prosecutor Francois Jardin, who declined to give details.
A police spokesman separately said the two suspects "claimed to be ETA members".
According to reports, ETA members were increasingly using bicycles when crossing the border into Spain to avoid attracting the attention of police.
Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told reporters in Madrid that the two suspects, who he did not name, "were part of ETA's military apparatus and were fully operational".
He said they are suspected members of ETA's "Urederra" cell which Spanish police dismantled in March 2007 with the arrest of eight people and the seizure of explosives.
Spanish media, citing unnamed anti-terrorism sources, identified the two as Joseba Mikel Olza Punal and Ugaitz Astiz.
Olza Punal's face appears on an interior ministry poster that has been widely distributed in Spain of suspected members of ETA's military apparatus.
ETA is blamed for the deaths of 824 people in its four-decade campaign for an independent Basque homeland straddling northern Spain and southwest France.
France has pledged to help Spain in its clampdown against ETA after the group called off a 15-month-old ceasefire in June 2007 and shattered hopes of a peace settlement.
[AP / Expatica]