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ETA chief arrested in southern France

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

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Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, or ETA, is a Basque nationalist paramilitary organization active in Spain and France. The organization's goal is sovereignty for Basque Country and it uses both political and violent means to further its cause.

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The suspected military chief of the Basque nationalist group ETA was arrested in a pre-dawn raid on Monday in the town of Cauterets in Southern France. Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, alias Txeroki (English: Cherokee), was arrested along with a woman who has not been named.

Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, alias Txeroki, in a police handout.

He was arrested in a joint operation by Spanish and French police. He is being held in France in connection with the killing of two Spanish Civil Guards in Capbreton, France, December 1, 2007.

Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said, "Today Eta is weaker and Spanish democracy is stronger."

"The arrest shows the unfailing determination of the police forces in the battle against any form of terrorism. It also illustrates once again the admirable collaboration between France and Spain in the fight against Basque terrorism," read a statement from French Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie's office.

The ETA organization is blamed by authorities for the deaths of 820 people since it began campaigning for a separate Basque state in the 1960s.

According to CNN, Txeroki is thought to have joined the ETA in 2000, rising to become the military chief in 2004.


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