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Spain Arrests 9 Suspected ETA Separatists

Spanish security forces have arrested nine people with suspected ties to ETA in the biggest sweep since the Basque separatist group announced a cease-fire earlier in the month.

Spain's Interior Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that police had led a number of pre-dawn raids in the Basque country and the regions of Navarra, Cantabria and Valencia.

Television pictures showed two of the arrests. The nine detainees are believed to be linked to Ekin, a Basque civic organization linked to ETA. Spain's National Court in 2007 ruled that Ekin was illegal.

Tuesday's arrests came after the Spanish government earlier this month rejected a cease-fire proposal by ETA, saying the offer could not be trusted.

On September 5, ETA militants issued a taped statement announcing they were ending "offensive armed action." The group had made similar statements in the past.

Previous cease-fires have ended in violence.

ETA has killed at least 800 people in its 40-year fight for an independent state in northern Spain and southwestern France.

The European Union and the United States consider ETA a terrorist organization. Most of its members have been arrested since 2008.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.