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Suspected Basque ETA member arrested in central France

A woman suspected of belonging to the armed Basque separatist group ETA was arrested in central France early Monday, police said.

The woman was travelling with a male companion when their car was stopped at a police checkpoint in the Indre department.

Officials said the man managed to escape but the woman was detained and found to be in possession of Spanish identity papers and documents relating to ETA.

A manhunt for the fugitive was under way.

Monday’s arrest comes 11 days after four other presumed ETA members, including Alejandro Zobaran Arriola, the group’s suspected military chief, were captured in northern France.

Those arrests were seen as another heavy blow against ETA, which had already been weakened by a string of earlier arrests in France and Spain.

Last January, the organisation, viewed as a “terrorist” group by the European Union and the United States, announced a “permanent” and “verifiable” ceasefire.

ETA is blamed for the deaths of 829 people in its four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings to force the creation of an independent Basque homeland.