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7 Suspects Arrested in Latest ETA Car Bomb Attack - 2001-10-17


In northern Spain, police have arrested seven suspected members of the Basque separatist group ETA. In addition to weapons and explosives, police say they also seized a vehicle being prepared for a car bomb attack.

In a series of raids late Tuesday and early Wednesday, police arrested seven members of ETA's main cell in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa. Police say they believe this cell was responsible for car bomb attacks in airports of Madrid and Malaga this summer.

The Spanish minister of the interior, Mariano Rajoy, told a news conference that among those arrested was Asier Altuna, a top official in Batasuna, ETA's political wing. The minister said police discovered a stolen car in Mr. Altuna's garage that had false license plates and was ready to be used as a car bomb.

Also arrested was Luis Marinelarena, who is wanted in connection with the killing last year of Socialist Party leader Fernando Bueza and his bodyguard.

Two of the seven arrested are members of the pro-ETA youth group, called Haika, which is blamed by authorities for organizing violent protests in Guipuzcoa province.

The interior minister said the arrest of Mr. Altuna showed that Batasuna is more than a political organization. Mr. Rajoy said Batasuna should be included in the list being prepared by the European Union of organizations that support terrorism and whose bank accounts could be frozen.

About 170 security agents reportedly seized firearms, grenades, and bombs - as well as 64-kilograms of dynamite and equipment for preparing car bombs.

ETA is blamed for killing 12 people this year and more than 800 since it began a campaign in 1968 to establish an independent Basque state carved out of northern Spain and southwestern France.

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