Leading ETA suspects arrested in French resort | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 19.08.2009
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Leading ETA suspects arrested in French resort

French anti-terrorist police have arrested three suspected members of the militant Basque separatist group ETA, two of them among Spain's most wanted terrorists, police sources say.

Tourists look at the smoke and flames coming from a car explosion in the Palmanova beach area, southwest of the island's capital, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Thursday, July 30, 2009. An explosion on the Spanish resort island of Mallorca killed two police officers

One of the men arrested is believed to have been involved in the bomb attack on Mallorca

French police working with Spanish security forces arrested the three suspects in the French ski resort of Le Corbier-Villarambert, reportedly finding firearms and false papers in their possession, according to Spanish media and officials involved in the investigation.

The three were suspected of supplying ETA with weapons and explosives for attacks in Spain, police sources said.

They were seized in a pre-dawn raid on an apartment conducted by around 20 heavily armed officers from a special weapons squad. The suspects were surprised in their sleep.

"They had no time to resist," an official told the AFP news agency.

In all, four handguns, 40 detonators and several electronic devices that could be used in making bomb triggers were found in the flat, along with a large quantity of paperwork, a French investigator told AFP.

Media reports said those arrested included Alberto Machain Beraza, who is wanted in connection with a deadly explosion on the resort island of Mallorca on July 30 which killed two Spanish police officers, as well as a bomb attack on a paramilitary Civil Guards barracks in the northern city of Burgos the day before, which wounded more than 60 people.

Also detained were Aitzol Etxaburu, the logistics chief of ETA's military wing, and Andoni Sarasola.

Most wanted

Spanish police officers stand beside the wreckage of a car after a explosion in the Palmanova beach area, southwest of the island's capital, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

The Mallorca bombing claimed the lives of two police officers

Two of the detainees were on the Spanish government's most-wanted list.

Spain’s interior minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, said the arrests had dismantled an ETA supply chain, but added that there was nothing to link the suspects directly to the Mallorca attack.

Rubalcaba said the arrests had led police to an ETA hideout in the French town of Ferrieres, about 40 kilometers (60 miles) from the Spanish border, where they found 100 kilos of ammonium nitrate and 12 liters of nitro-methane.

ETA, which was founded half a century ago, is blamed for the deaths of more than 820 people in its violent campaign for an independent Basque homeland. It is considered a terrorist organization by both the European Union and the United States.

Its military structure has been dealt serious blows by authorities in recent years, with many of its leaders arrested.

dfm/ch/dpa/Reuters/AFP/el pais/el mundo

Editor: Kyle James

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