Basque Militants Declare Permanent Cease-Fire in Spain

But statement falls short of government hopes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 10, 2011 9:48 AM CST
Basque pro-independence supporters hold up a giant flag with the silhouette of the Basque Country calling for the return for all of more than eight hundred prisoners of the Basque armed group ETA who...   (Alvaro Barrientos)
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(Newser) – The militant Basque separatist group ETA declared a permanent cease-fire today in what it called a firm step toward ending its bloody, decades-long independence fight—but the Spanish government quickly demanded it disband outright. Masked ETA members announced the cease-fire in a video distributed to Spanish media, and ETA's statement also appeared on the website of pro-independence newspaper Gara, which often serves as an ETA mouthpiece.

But the statement made no mention of ETA dissolving or giving up its weapons—key demands from successive Spanish governments—and the announcement follows what the group called a permanent cease-fire in 2006 that ended after only nine months. A top Spanish official said Spanish governments and mainstream Spanish political parties have maintained that all they want to hear from ETA is that it is disarming and giving up. ETA's last deadly attack was in 2009.

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