Two armed ETA members arrested in France

12th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 12, 2007 (AFP) - French police, acting on information provided by their Spanish counterparts, on Wednesday arrested two armed suspected members of armed Basque separatist group ETA in southwestern France, a French judicial source said.

PARIS, July 12, 2007 (AFP) - French police, acting on information provided by their Spanish counterparts, on Wednesday arrested two armed suspected members of armed Basque separatist group ETA in southwestern France, a French judicial source said.

The pair were hauled in at Puymoyen, a village near the city of Angouleme, north of Bordeaux, the source said, adding the pair had been driving a stolen car bearing false number plates when anti-terrorist police intercepted them.

"Various documents were seized in the vehicle which was examined by a bomb disposal crew," the source said, without saying if any explosives had been recovered.

The latest arrests bring to 14 the number of ETA suspects detained since the group, held responsible for 819 deaths in a four-decade independence campaign for the northern Spanish region bordering France, formally ended a ceasefire on June 5.

Ten of the arrests came in France, traditionally a haven for the group but less so in recent years following a joint crackdown by French and Spanish police working closely together.

Two other arrests came in Canada, one in Spain and one in Mexico.

Three of those arrested in France "were going to commit an attack in Spain" according to Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.

Spain's Cadena Ser radio and the Europa Press news agency named Wednesday's suspects as Jose Juan Garcia Gonzalez and Iker Mendizabal, quoting anti-terrorist sources.

At least one of them was reported to be in possession of a weapon from a 350-strong cache of firearms stolen late last year from a munitions factory near Nimes, in southern France.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero welcomed the arrests as "the fruit of exemplary cooperation" with French police while warning that the country faced a clear terrorist threat.

Rubalcaba said earlier the arrest of a suspected ETA member in the northern tourist resort of Santander on Tuesday had foiled an imminent attack.

Aritz Arginzoniz Zubiarre was arrested at a bus station carrying a firearm, bomb-making material and forged documents.

He "belonged to a commando that was going to commit a car bomb attack in Cantabria in the coming days in the car park of a public building," Rubalcaba told a news conference.

Rubalcaba said Spain had to expect an attack at any time after nearly 300 kilogrammes (660 pounds) of explosives were found in two separate operations in southern Spain at the end of June and in southwestern France at the beginning of July.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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