Hundreds of people gathered in the small town of Dammarie les Lys south of Paris to mourn and remember a 52-year-old police officer shot and killed by suspected Eta terrorists.
If they are to blame, it’ll be the first time in four decades of violence that a French policeman has died as a direct result of the conflict.
The shooting of father of four Jean-Serge Nerin has caused outrage in France and Spain.
Spain’s Prime Minister José-Luis Zapatero said:
“This time France has paid a high price for its collaboration in the fight against Eta which is very important for our freedom and security. I can swear to you that the killing of this policeman will be considered as if he was a member of our own security forces.”
Nerin was carrying out a vehicle check after responding to a report of cars being stolen from a dealership.
His patrol had stopped a speeding car but while officers questioned the driver another car drew up and the occupants – believed to be an Eta rescue contingent – opened fire, hitting Nerin in the chest.
The gang then fled, leaving behind a man said by police to have been identified as Joseba Fernandez Aspurz, a suspected Eta member wanted in connection with a petrol bomb attack in Pamplona.
Mounted police and tracker dogs have been combing the area in a search for more clues while the French and Spanish governments have pledged to intensify efforts to clamp down
on Basque separatist radicals.