Basque Leader Busted In Major Crackdown on Separatists

Opposition party calls move an election ploy
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2007 5:06 AM CDT
A banner reading 'It's our right, Peace and Freedom, ETA No' is seen at the front of a demonstration against the ETA armed Basque separatist group, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Saturday, June 9, 2007....   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 7 more images

(Newser) – A top Basque separatist leader and 17 others have been arrested in the two months since the organization ended a 15-month ceasefire with Spain. Some analysts credit luck and improved intelligence for the arrests, including last week's bust of ETA's crucial head of logistics. But some critics say the crackdown is aimed at polishing the prime minister's image for the 2008 elections.

The prime minister is under pressure to demonstrate a tough stance on terrorism before the election, the Christian Science Monitor reports. The opposition Popular Party has accused the prime minister of easing police pressure  during the ceasefire and says he haa betrayed the country by negotiating with terrorists.