Italian police detain three ETA-linked Basque youths: Spain

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Police detained three members of an outlawed youth group linked to the armed Basque separatist group ETA in Rome Thursday during a visit by Spain's prime minister to Italy, the interior ministry said.

The three members of Segi were arrested as they were about to deliver a press conference in the Italian capital, it said in a statement. They were the subject of a Spanish arrest warrant.

"Italian and Spanish authorities were in permanent contact as soon as they learned of their presence in Rome," the interior ministry said.

The arrests took place as Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was in Rome where he met with his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi and Pope Benedict XVI.

Spain's Supreme Court in 2007 declared Segi to be a terrorist group due to its ties to ETA, which is blamed for 829 deaths in its 41-year campaign for independence in the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France.

Authorities blame Segi members for street violence in the Basque region such as torching bank machines, burning buses and throwing Molotov cocktails, and the youth group is considered to be ETA's main source of recruitment.

The street violence carried out by Segi has become a symbol of underground support for ETA, which figures on several terrorist blacklists, including those of the European Union and the United States.

© 2010 AFP

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