Four Basque separatists held in France: Spanish media

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French police arrested four members of an outlawed youth group linked to the armed Basque separatist group ETA, Spanish public radio said Thursday.

The four members of the Segi organisation were detained in various locations in southern France in a joint French-Spanish police, the radio said.

The Europa Press news agency, quoting anti-terrorist sources, said two of the arrests took place in Saint Jean de Luz and one in Hendaye, both in southwest France near the Spanish border.

It said the four had escaped police raids in the northern Basque Country on November 23 in which 34 Segi members were arrested.

Authorities blame Segi for street violence in the Basque region such as the torching of cash machines and buses. The youth group is considered to be ETA's main source of recruitment.

ETA, which is on the terrorist blacklist of the European Union and the United States, is blamed for the deaths of 829 people in a four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings to demand a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France.

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 to stage attacks in Spain.

© 2010 AFP

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