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Gunmen say Basque separatists will not disarm

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Gunmen say Basque separatists will not disarm


At an open-air homage to dead ETA members, three men read out a document saying that the group will not lay down its arms until the Basque country achieves independence. Claiming to represent ETA, they also said a ceasefire declared in March will be respected and negotiations with the Spanish government will continue.

Classed as a terrorist organisation, ETA wants an independent government for the Basque areas of France and Spain. A spokesman for the separatists’ banned political wing Batasuna has insisted on closer dialogue with Madrid: “There has been compromise on our part to try and break the political deadlock, but we can’t do it alone. What’s needed is a positive and constructive attitude from other political parties, especially from the socialist Spanish government.”

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero did not directly respond to the gunmen’s’ statement, but spoke in Barcelona about what he expects from ETA. “The rules of the game are quite clear. There must be legality and peace. And peace means no violence. No violence of any kind.” He appears to be referring to recent acts of vandalism in the Basque country. Street violence that is making March’s ceasefire all the more fragile.

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