Suspected ETA member arrested in France: source

1st June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Spaniard linked to ETA was arrested Tuesday in France in connection with the recent capture of the alleged military chief of the armed Basque separatist group, a source close to the affair said.

Juan Carlos Iriarte was arrested in the southwestern French border town of Hendaye and was being held in the nearby city of Bayonne after his home was searched by anti-terror police, the source said.

He is suspected of providing logistical support to ETA, the source added.

Spanish public radio reported earlier Tuesday that Iriarte, alias Juankar, was arrested while he was driving in Hendaye in the French Basque region.

Iriarte's arrest came after the detention on May 20 in Bayonne of Mikel Karrera Sarobe, described by the Spanish government as ETA's supreme leader and military chief, and his lieutenant Arkaitz Aguirregabiria del Barrio.

Sarobe was the fifth ETA military chief to be arrested in just two years as France and Spain have stepped up joint operations to root out the separatist group.

For the past four decades ETA has been fighting a bloody campaign for an independent Basque homeland carved out from northern Spain and southwest France.

It is listed as a banned terrorist group by the European Union and has been held responsible for the deaths of 829 people during its on-again, off-again campaign of gun and bomb attacks on mainly Spanish targets.

Traditionally, ETA used France as a safe rear-base for attacks on Spain, but in recent years the two EU allies have strengthened cross-border police cooperation and cracked down on the group.

© 2010 AFP

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