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Home News Before ETA, Europe’s armed groups

Before ETA, Europe’s armed groups

Published on 02/05/2018

As Basque separatist group ETA announced Wednesday it is disbanding after a deadly four-decade independence campaign, here is a look back at other groups that waged armed struggles in Europe.

– Northern Ireland: IRA –

The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) launched in 1970 a campaign of bombings and shootings on British troops who had come to restore order amid tensions between Northern Ireland’s Catholics and Protestants.

Deadly attacks also took place in the Republic of Ireland and Britain across the following decades.

Seeking to unite Britain’s Northern Ireland region with the Republic of Ireland, the Catholic movement carried out assassinations of key figures, including British royal insider Lord Louis Mountbatten.

In 1974 British prime minister Margaret Thatcher escaped injury when the hotel in Brighton, southern England where she was staying was blown up. Five people were killed.

The 1998 Good Friday peace accords largely ended the decades of inter-community bloodshed, known as the Troubles, in which more than 3,500 people died.

The IRA gave up its armed campaign in 2005.

– Italy: Red Brigades –

The Red Brigades were a leftwing terrorist organisation responsible for a string of violent acts in Italy between 1969 and 1980.

Founded in 1973 by the sociologist Renato Curcio, the group injured or killed dozens of magistrates, political figures, journalists and industrialists.

Their most notorious act was the kidnapping and assassination of former prime minister Aldo Moro in 1978.

Between 1969 and 1988 there were about 15,000 attacks linked to far-left and far-right militancy in Italy, claiming 415 lives.

– West Germany: Baader Meinhof –

The Red Army Faction, known as Baader Meinhof after its founders Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, was a radical leftwing group responsible for a string of kidnappings and murders of prominent figures in West Germany in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The outfit believed it was fighting an oppressive capitalist state and US imperialism.

Its highest-profile victim was Hanns Martin Schleyer, the head of the German employers’ federation who was kidnapped and shot dead in 1977.

Believed to have killed a total of 34 people, the group abandoned violence in 1992 and formally disbanded in 1998.

– Corsica: FLNC –

The island’s main militant group the National Liberation Front of Corsica (FLNC) started a militant campaign in the 1970s in its quest for separation from France.

It claimed more than 4,500 attacks over four decades, targeting police and army barracks, holiday homes, banks, a NATO base, supermarkets and other retail outlets.

The campaign caused relatively few deaths: the group is accused of killing of nine police officers and, amid infighting, an offshoot staged the 1998 assassination of the island’s top official, prefect Claude Erignac.

The FLNC ended its armed struggle in 2014 in favour of a political process.

– Greece: November 17 –

Greece’s deadliest terrorist outfit was named after the date of a 1973 student uprising crushed by the military dictatorship then in power.

Emerging in 1975, the group killed 23 people — including a CIA station chief, US army staff, Greek police, business executives and a British defence attache — before being broken up in 2002.

– France: Action Directe –

The left-wing Action Directe carried out a series of attacks that shook France in the 1980s, including the abduction and murder of Georges Besse, head of the state car manufacturer Renault, in 1986.

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