Suspected ETA military chief arrested in France: sources

20th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

French police on Thursday arrested the suspected military chief of the Basque separatist group ETA, Mikel Karrera Sarobe, police sources said.

Two other suspected ETA members -- also Spanish nationals -- were arrested with Karrera Sarobe when detectives and anti-terrorist police raided a house in the southwestern French city of Bayonne at daybreak, the sources said.

They were a man and a woman, with one of them being the number-two figure in ETA's military branch, the sources said, adding that weapons had been seized.

Two further arrests were made in the vicinity of Bayonne, one source said, without giving details.

Cooperation between Madrid and Paris has led to the arrests in the past two years of five top ETA leaders in France, which the group has long used as a rear base from which to stage attacks in Spain.

Karrera Sarobe, alias Ata or "duck" in the Basque language, was identified as ETA's new military leader on a revised most-wanted list issued by Spanish police on March 16 in their pursuit of ETA militants.

ETA -- classified as a terrorist group by the European Union, and held responsible for the deaths of 828 people in a violent campaign for Basque independence -- has carried out no attacks on Spanish soil since August 2009.

But it is blamed for the March 16 killing of a French police officer during a shoot-out in the Paris region.

More than 30 suspected ETA members have been arrested in 2010, including ETA's new leader Ibon Gogeascoechea Arronategui who was captured in February in northwestern France.

© 2010 AFP

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