Basque Terrorists Seen Disarming as France Caches Revealed

Updated on
  • ETA suspended bloody independence fight against Spain in 2011
  • Three tons of explosives among the weapons, El Mundo says

The Basque terror group ETA revealed the locations of weapons dumps in France, signaling the movement has disarmed after suspending its struggle for independence from Spain, according to international monitors.

Ram Manikkalingam, head of the International Verification Committee, said Saturday the group had received information on the arms caches and passed it on immediately to French authorities. The eight caches contain 120 firearms, three tons of explosives as well as detonators and ammunition, El Mundo newspaper reported.

French police examine an ETA weapons cache in Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle on April 8.

Photographer: Iroz Gaizka/AFP via Getty Images

“This is a big step in neutralizing this arsenal of explosive weapons,” Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said in a statement in Paris. “This is an incontestably important day.”

ETA, which killed more than 800 people in a more than four-decade fight to force Spain to grant independence to the Basque region, announced a permanent cease-fire in 2011. The group, whose initials stand for Basque Homeland and Freedom, started its campaign for an independent nation carved out of northern Spain and southwestern France in 1968, when Spain was under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

“This step constitutes the disarming of ETA,” Manikkalingam, the chief monitor, told reporters in Bayonne, France, in comments televised by Spanish state broadcaster TVE.

In a statement, the Spanish government said it wouldn’t make any assessment of the amount of weaponry revealed by ETA until it has been analyzed by the French authorities.

“The action carried out today by the terrorist group is merely the consequence of its definitive defeat by Spanish democracy,” the government said. “The only logical response to this situation is to announce its definitive disbandment, ask forgiveness of its victims and to disappear.”

— With assistance by Mark Deen

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