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'Eta leaders' arrested in France

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'Eta leaders' arrested in France

French police say they have arrested two of the most senior figures in the outlawed Basque separatist group, Eta.

Mikel Albizu, known as Antza, and his partner, Maria Soledad Iparraguirre, were among at least 18 people detained in a swoop in south-western France.

Officials said the operation was possibly the most significant blow against Eta in years.

The Spanish authorities say the arrests have probably saved dozens if not hundreds of lives.

High-profile

The BBC's Katya Adler in Madrid says Mr Albizu is thought to be one of the most senior political figures in Eta.

His partner, Maria Soledad Iparraguirre, is one of the group's leading female figures.

The couple, both aged 43, had been on the run from Spanish justice for more than 10 years.

They were seized near the town of Pau, according to the Associated Press.

Their arrests were part of a series made in border villages along the French border where Eta militants have long sought refuge.

The suspects were captured in towns including Saint Pierre d'Irubek, Briscous, Ayherre and Hendaye, Spain's interior ministry said in a statement.

Spanish Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso says the raid is hugely important and an example of outstanding collaboration between the two countries.

Improved French and Spanish ties since the 11 September attacks have led to several high-profile Eta arrests, our correspondent says.

Spanish authorities now describe Eta as considerably weakened but still dangerous.

The armed group has been fighting for more than 30 years for an independent Basque state.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3711196.stm

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Great News! thumbsup.gif

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Spain vows to 'crush' Eta

Spain has vowed to crush the Basque separatist group Eta after the arrest on Sunday of an alleged leader in raids by police in France.

Spanish Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso called the arrest of Mikel Albizu and 20 others "an extremely hard blow to the terrorist gang".

But he said Spanish security forces cannot let down their guard.

Officials said Sunday's operation was possibly the most significant blow against Eta in years.

"It is an extremely severe blow to the terrorist group and a blow of which we must feel extraordinarily satisfied," Mr Alonso told Spanish TV.

"Eta is now more weakened and is in very bad shape but... we must not ease up for even a minute in the fight against Eta's terrorism."

The weapons and explosives seized in Sunday's raids showed Eta was still very capable of attacking, he said.

On the run

Mr Albizu Iriarte, known as Antza, and his partner, Maria Soledad Iparraguirre, know as Anboto, were among at least 20 people detained in a swoop in south-western France.

Mr Albizu is thought to be one of the most senior political figures in Eta.

Ms Iparraguirre is one of the group's leading female figures.

The couple, both aged 43, had been on the run from Spanish justice for more than 10 years. They were arrested near Pau in south-western France.

They were with their daughter when they were arrested, according to police, the Associated Press reports.

They had false papers and refused to answer questions, but were identified by police and, Spain said, by their fingerprints.

Their arrests were part of a series made in border villages along the French border where Eta militants have long sought refuge.

Mr Alonso says the raids are hugely important and an example of outstanding collaboration between the two countries.

Improved French and Spanish ties since the 11 September attacks in the Unied States have led to several high-profile Eta arrests, the BBC's Katya Adler in Madrid says. .

The armed group has been fighting for more than 30 years for an independent Basque state.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3713114.stm

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Spain has vowed to crush the Basque separatist group Eta after the arrest on Sunday of an alleged leader in raids by police in France.

Spanish Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso called the arrest of Mikel Albizu and 20 others "an extremely hard blow to the terrorist gang"

.

Yay Spain! thumbsup.gif Shame they did not have this much enthusiasm when it came to Iraq.

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Shame they did not have this much enthusiasm when it came to Iraq.

Conflict is more important when it is closer to home sad.gif

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New Spanish swoop on Eta suspects

The Spanish authorities say they have arrested five suspected members of Basque separatist group Eta who were planning to carry out attacks.

The four men and a woman were detained during raids in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa and the neighbouring region of Navarra.

Police say they were acting on information following the weekend arrests of 20 Eta suspects in France.

Two ground-to-air missiles were found in further operations on Monday.

Speaking after the latest arrests, Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said: "The Civil Guard believes that they had agreed to join the operational structure of the terrorist organization Eta."

The ministry said the arrests were made possible by statements from a Spanish truck driver arrested in northern Spain on Sunday.

Paris transfer

Spanish officials have described the recent arrests and discovery of arms caches as possibly the most significant blow against Eta in years.

The weekend detention of suspected Eta leader Mikel Albizu, also known as Mikel Antza, and his girlfriend, Maria Soledad Iparraguirre was a particular coup for the authorities.

Ms Iparraguirre is thought to be one of Eta's most senior figures and is wanted by the Spanish authorities for her suspected involvement in at least 14 assassinations.

The couple and nine others were transferred to Paris for questioning.

The Russian-made SAM-7 shoulder-fired missiles, recovered on Monday night from underground caches in houses in Urrugne and Briscous, were said to be in "in perfect condition and ready to be used".

Mr Alonso said: "We don't have any evidence they were going to be used in any specific operation, but the mere fact they had them is alarming news."

Eta has been fighting for more than 30 years for an independent Basque state.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3719826.stm

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