Skip to main content
CNN.com
Search
Home World U.S. Weather Business Sports Analysis Politics Law Tech Science Health Entertainment Offbeat Travel Education Specials Autos I-Reports
WORLD header

Basque group calls off cease-fire

Story Highlights

• ETA warns of fresh attacks after calling off cease-fire in place since March 2006
• Spanish PM Zapatero says government will never respond to actions of terrorists.
• ETA says government met its cease-fire "with arrests, torture and persecution"
• Cease-fire had raised hopes of end to 40-year campaign of violence
From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman
Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Basque separatist group ETA called off a unilateral cease-fire it declared more than a year ago, a statement published in a Basque newspaper said on Tuesday.

The ETA statement was published overnight in the Basque-language newspaper Berria and it warned of attacks resuming as early as midnight Tuesday (6 p.m. ET).

The announcement came a day after Spain's largest-circulation newspaper, El Pais, published a story, citing police and intelligence services, warning of imminent new ETA attacks.

Government ministers huddled Tuesday morning to address developments, CNN's sister network CNN Plus reported. In a nationally televised statement after the meeting, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the Spanish government would never respond to the actions of terrorists.

Reacting to ETA's announcement, Basque politician Javier Madrazo said in an interview with Spanish radio network SER that "ETA always blames others when it breaks a cease-fire. But they're the only ones to blame."

Much of Spain had already considered the cease-fire dead following a December 2006 ETA car bombing at a parking garage at the Madrid airport, which killed two people.

Prior to the December 30 airport bombing, ETA had not killed anyone since 2003.

After the blast, the government announced that it considered the peace process finished, although ETA later issued a statement saying its cease-fire was still in force.

But after the bombing, the Spanish government said it would no longer trust any future ETA cease-fire announcements and instead would expect the group to make a pledge to end violence and lay down its arms.

The ruling Socialists and the opposition conservatives have long been at odds over policy towards ETA.

The conservatives have argued that the rule of law and police crackdowns are enough, while Socialists have said that those measures combined with possible dialogue after a commitment to end violence would be better.

The cease-fire was a unilateral ETA initiative -- one to which the government never agreed. Spanish police continued to arrest group members, upsetting ETA leadership, which called the arrests "aggressions," claiming ETA prisoners had been tortured.

In late March, Spanish and French authorities arrested 10 suspected members of the Basque group in what police called a blow to ETA's "infrastructure."

A total of 21 ETA suspects have been detained this year, including 10 in Spain and 11 in France, the Spanish Interior Ministry recently said.

About 500 people -- including convicted ETA operatives and suspects awaiting trial -- are in Spanish jails and an estimated 100 more are in French jails, authorities have told CNN.

ETA's announcement of a unilateral, "permanent" cease-fire on March 22, 2006 initially raised hopes for an end to nearly 40 years of ETA violence, which is blamed for more than 800 deaths.

ETA wants Basque independence and is listed as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.


story.madrid.afp.gi.jpg

Fireman at work in a Madrid airport car park following an ETA attack in December which killed two people.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Career Builder.com
Quick Job Search
  More Options
International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise with Us About Us Contact Us
Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
SERVICES » E-mails RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNNtoGo CNN Pipeline
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more