ETA 'weakened', shifting to Portugal: French minister

17th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The armed Basque separatist movement ETA has been weakened and is now shifting its rear base from France to Portugal, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said Sunday.

"Thanks the collaboration with the Spanish police, we have considerably weakened ETA, which had considered France as its rear base," the minister said in a radio and television interview. "That logistics base is under constant attack."

French and Spanish police have stepped up cross-border cooperation against ETA, arresting much of its top leadership and seizing hundreds of kilos of explosives in 12 caches in a series of raids across southern France last year.

ETA "is in the process of moving for the most part to Portugal as they realise that in France they can't operate," said Hortefeux.

In February, Portuguese police found an ETA cache of 300 kilogrammes (660 pounds) explosives.

ETA is blamed for the deaths of 829 people in its four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings to force the creation of a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France.

Its announcement of a truce last month has been met with scepticism from the Spanish government because it has broken such ceasefires without warning in the past. Instead they suspect ETA is trying to "buy time" to regroup.

© 2010 AFP

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