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Spanish Police Strike at Basque Separatist Group - 2001-12-18

Spanish police have dealt a blow to the infrastructure of the violent Basque separatist group, ETA. Police arrested seven suspected ETA collaborators.

In pre-dawn raids, police entered several residences in two towns near San Sebastian in the northern Basque province of Guipuzcoa.

Seven people were arrested and accused of collaborating with an ETA commando unit in the fabrication of car bombs. Three other suspects managed to escape.

Seized in the raids were 50 kilograms of dynamite, material for preparing car bombs, three pistols, and lists of car licenses to be duplicated in the fabrication of false license plates.

Police also found the maps of various Spanish and French cities, some of which corresponded to the sites of past terrorist attacks.

Spain's Minister of the Interior, Mariano Rajoy, who is on an official visit to Berlin, said the evidence seized in the raids confirmed that the ETA unit was responsible for placing car bombs in the resort town of Salou, in Madrid's Barajas airport, and in the airport at Malaga.

The bomb in Malaga in July was defused, while the bomb at the Madrid airport in August exploded, causing extensive damage, but no injuries. Mr. Rajoy said the police operation effectively dismantled the infrastructure of the ETA unit.

ETA is blamed for more than 800 deaths in a 30 year terrorist campaign aimed to carve out an independent Basque state from southern France and northern Spain.