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Spanish police arrest suspected members of banned Basque youth group

As part of a crackdown on the radical Basque youth organization SEGI, Spanish police arrest 13 suspected members. The Interior Ministry accuses the group of 'street terrorism.'

Police arrest suspected SEGI members

All the suspects were between 20 and 29 years old

In a series of overnight raids on Friday, Spanish police arrested 13 suspected members of a group labeled as the youth wing of the radical Basque separatist group ETA, the Spanish Interior Ministry said.

The raids involved 300 police officers and took place in the northern Basque region, the neighboring Navarre and Catalonia. Authorities continued searching homes and other locations after the arrests, seizing documents and computer storage devices. All the suspects were between 20 and 29 years old and were to be transferred to Madrid later in the day.

ETA members in cloaks and masks

ETA's most recent ceasefire announcement was viewed skeptically

The ministry said the SEGI organization acts as "a recruiting ground which ETA continues to turn to so as to regenerate its militant network." It accuses members of the group of "street terrorism," or acts of urban anti-state violence like throwing Molotov cocktails at symbols of the Spanish state.

Armed struggle

The group was banned by the Spanish Supreme Court in 2007 when it ruled that it had links to terrorism. The European Union classifies SEGI as a terrorist organization.

Police detained about three dozen other suspected SEGI members, many of them suspected leaders, in November 2009.

ETA has been blamed for the deaths of some 825 people in more than 40 years of its violent struggle for an independent Basque state.

In a video statement on September 5, ETA said it had decided to halt "armed offensive actions." The announcement was largely met with skepticism, as ETA had previously announced ceasefires only to break them shortly thereafter.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AP, AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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