France arrests armed ETA suspects

Story highlights

  • ETA is listed as a terrorist organization by Spain, the United States and the European Union
  • The group wants an independent state in parts of northern Spain and southwest France

Anti-terror police arrested a pair of men suspected of being armed Basque separatists in southern France on Sunday, Spain's Interior Ministry said.

Oroitz Gurruchaga Gogorza, a suspected ETA commander, and Xabier Aramburu, suspected of being a deputy commander, were taken into custody Sunday afternoon in the French town of Cauna, near Mont de Marsan, according to the government.

It's believed they were in the south of France to recruit new members, the ministry said.

Listed as a terrorist organization by Spain, the United States and the European Union, ETA is blamed for more than 800 deaths in its decades-long fight for an independent Basque state that it wants carved out of sections of northern Spain and southwestern France.

Last year, ETA announced "a definitive cessation of its armed activity," raising hopes that decades of separatist violence may finally be over.