Suspected ETA members arrested close to France-Belgium border

12:32, March 12, 2011      

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French police have arrested four suspected members of Basque separatist group ETA in the north of the country, close to the border with Belgium.

One of those detained in the operation, which took place late on Thursday night in the small town of Willencourt, is the suspected leader of the organization and the suspected military chief, Alejandro Zobaran Arriola, who is nicknamed "Xarla."

The other three detainees in what was a joint operation between French and Spanish police have yet to be identified, although it has been confirmed that all four of those arrested are male and that they were armed at the moment of their arrest.

"Xarla" is the sixth ETA military leader to be detained since may 2008 and he had been on the run since 2007 when the ETA "Commando Donosti" was disarticulated by Spanish police in San Sebastian in 2007.

The police had been keeping the group under surveillance for three days prior to making the arrests.

ETA declared a permanent and verifiable ceasefire in January of this year, bringing at least a temporary halt to a 45-year campaign for the independence of the Basque region in Northern Spain and South West France, which has caused the loss of 829 lives.

Since the ceasefire was declared, Spanish and French security forces have now arrested 27 people thought to be either members of or closely connected to the group. Nine of those arrests have taken place in the past fortnight.

Source: Xinhua

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