French police arrest suspected ETA leader
A demonstrator holds a banner reading, ‘ETA inmates and fugitives back home,’ in Basque during a demonstration against government in Madrid. AFP photoFrench police arrested a suspected leader of the Basque separatist group ETA, the Spanish interior ministry announced yesterday.
The arrested woman, Izaskun Lesaka, was picked up along with an accomplice by France’s anti-terrorism police in the eastern town of Macon, the ministry said in a statement. Lesaka is “one of the three main figures” in the group. The identity of the other arrested suspect was not given, but media named him as Joseba Iturbe Otxoteka. The pair were arrested in a serviced apartment in an operation launched by the Spanish and French police, according to Agence France-Presse.
The arrests are a new blow to the ETA, which announced a year ago that it had abandoned violence in its 40-year fight for an independent homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France.
ETA is considered a terrorist organization by Spain, the U.S. and the EU and is blamed for the killings of more than 825 people in a violent campaign of bombings and shootings for an independent Basque state straddling the border with France. While vowing to abandon violence ETA has refused to disband and disarm, though it has only dozens of active members left. ETA was decimated by arrests over recent years, Associated Press reported.