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ETA's bloody 50-year history

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ETA's bloody 50-year history

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One of the world’s longest-living terrorist groups, ETA was born while Spain was ruled by General Franco. On July 31st 1959, radicals split from mainstream dissidents they considered too moderate in the face of Franco’s oppression of the Basque people. ETA’s first high-profile victim was Franco’s anointed successor, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco. The massive car bomb in Madrid in November 1973, was hidden in a sewer in a road he used every day. The attack had been planned for months.

The terrorists changed tactics and moved to car bombings in the 1980s. In 1987, 21 people died, including whole families, at the Hipercor shopping centre in Barcelona. ETA said police failed to act on a warning; the police said it had come too late. Five years later, in 1992, police landed some important blows, arresting three suspected ETA leaders in the French resort of Bidart. The arrests forced ETA to change; after a short truce, though, the group returned to violence. In 1995, a huge car bomb devastated a poor part of Madrid. The target was an area with no obvious political or military relevance, the attack perhaps a show of force. ETA now resorted to kidnapping to raise funds. Jose Antonio Ortega Lara, a prison guard, was held for more than two years. It’s not known if a ransom was paid for his release. The summer of 1997 saw the biggest-ever protests against ETA. Right-wing politician Miguel Angel Blanco was kidnapped and murdered. Millions of people demonstrated across Spain, including in the Basque country, demanding an end to the violence. Their calls still fall on deaf ears.