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2 ETA Suspects Arrested in Madrid - 2002-05-15

In Spain's capital Tuesday police have arrested two suspected members of the violent Basque separatist group ETA as they were preparing to carry out terrorist attacks. Authorities believe they planned to act during a high-profile European Union-Latin American summit later this week.

In an ongoing operation, Spanish police have arrested two veteran members of the Basque terrorist group ETA in the Madrid working class district of Vallecas. The suspects were caught as they were about to enter an automobile they had stolen last week. Police had identified the car because of its false license plates and had been keeping it under surveillance. A third suspect escaped in another car.

The two arrested were armed and had in their position a limpet bomb ready to be attached to a vehicle. In the operation police also found a car bomb with 40 kilograms of explosives ready for immediate use and an apartment in the very center of Madrid used by the suspects as a base. Police said, in this apartment, they found 90 kilograms of explosives, devices for preparing bombs, and documents.

Spanish Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy speaking at a press conference in Strasbourg, France where he was visiting the European Parliament, gave details of the operation.

He identified one of the suspects as 26-year-old Imanol Miner who was wanted for the killings of three Basque policemen last year. The other supect, 39-year-old Mikel Guillermo San Argimiro, has been a member for over ten years and fled Spain for Mexico in 1996. Mr. Rajoy said their probable intention was to set off a car bomb during the summit of European Union and Latin American heads of state and government due to take place in Madrid this weekend.

Police believe the suspects were responsible for setting off two car bombs in Madrid on April 22 and May 1 which had no victims.

ETA has set off a total of 34 car bombs in this city with a death toll of 54 people in its more than 40-year campaign to established an independent state in southern France and Northern Spain.