France Arrests Spanish Basque Military Commander

Posted October 28th, 2012 at 4:30 pm (UTC-5)
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French police have arrested a military commander of the Spanish Basque separatist group ETA, in the latest blow to a movement that has seen its key members detained in Europe in recent years.

The Spanish government said an elite French police unit captured Izaskun Lesaka and her Spanish male companion, also an ETA member, in a raid Sunday at a hotel in the eastern French city of Macon. Both Lesaka and the man were armed. The two are aged in their 30s.

Spain's Interior Ministry said Lesaka is one of the three main leaders of ETA, branded a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States. She is suspected of commanding ETA's military wing.

ETA has been struggling for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France for decades. It pledged to abandon violence in October 2011, but has refused to give up its weapons and disband as the Spanish government has demanded. At least 800 people have been killed in the separatist conflict.