Police detain ETA suspects linked to fatal shooting

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Two suspected members of ETA allegedly involved in a fatal shooting of a construction company director in December 2008 have been arrested.

MADRID – Police in Spain detained Thursday two suspected members of the armed Basque separatist group ETA who they believe may have been involved in a December fatal shooting, public radio RNE reported.

The man and woman, identified as Iraitz Santa Cruz Ugade and Isaro Aroarte, were detained the Basque town of Hernani, the radio station said, citing local police sources.

They are suspected of involvement in the fatal shooting of 71-year-old Ignacio Uria Mendizabal on 3 December in the car park of a restaurant in the Basque town of Azpeitia, near the coastal city of San Sebastian.

The detained man is thought to be the owner of the car which was used in the attack, RNE reported.

ETA claimed responsibility for the shooting the following month in a statement sent to the pro-independence newspaper Gara. It was the most recent killing by the group.

Mendizabal was the head of a company involved in the construction of a high-speed rail network in the region - a project opposed by ETA.

The outfit argues the rail link connecting the Basque Country's economic centre of Bilbao with its regional capital Vitoria and the city of San Sebastian near the French border is an imposition by Madrid which will harm the environment.

In February, a van packed with explosives went off in a Madrid business district outside the offices of another firm which is also involved in the project in the first attack by ETA in the Spanish capital since December 2006.

The bomb caused extensive damage but no injuries.

One of the two people arrested Thursday is linked to a suspected ETA member, Manex Castro, who was arrested Sunday in the Basque Country just hours before polls opened in regional elections in the wealthy region bordering France, RNE reported.

Police said at the time that they suspected Castro may have been preparing an "imminent" bomb attack. Spanish authorities also suspect he was behind the bombing of the headquarters of the Basque Socialist Party in Laxkao in February.

Non-nationalist parties won a majority in the 75-seat Basque assembly in Sunday's regional elections for the first time since the chamber was created in 1980 shortly after Spain returned to democracy.

AFP / Expatica

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