Hundreds of people have rallied in cities across Spain’s Basque Country in protest against the government’s crackdown on ETA’s alleged political wing, Batasuna. It comes after police detained almost all of the party’s top members. Posters calling for demonstrations described the operation as a “declaration of war.”
Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, has denied the Basque regional government’s claims that the arrests were “politically motivated.” She said “the detentions were part of the courts’ normal operation, which are independent.”
Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy also gave his support for the arrests describing it as the start of positive action against terrorism.
The raid in Segura which triggered Friday night’s protests is said to have targeted a Batasuna meeting where the party’s old guard was handing over control to new leaders. The operation was ordered by Spain’s top anti-terror judge, Baltasar Garzon. It was the latest in a four-month crackdown against radical Basque separatists at a time when calls for independence are shaking mainstream politics in the Basque Country.