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Spanish PM Accuses Basque Separatist Group of Killing French Policeman


Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is accusing a Basque separatist group of killing a French policeman outside Paris.

At a news conference in Madrid, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero offered his condolences to the family of the French police officer who was slain in a shootout east of Paris.

The Spanish Prime Minister said France had paid a high price for its help in the fight against the Basque separatist group ETA, but that French and Spanish forces would persevere in their campaign to bring the organization to its knees.

The French officer died in a gun battle Tuesday that erupted during a police check on a vehicle. Police arrested one suspect who authorities reportedly identify as a Spanish Basque.

French authorities have not yet blamed ETA for the killing, but if it is proved, it would be its first against a French police officer. The Basque separatist group has killed more than 800 people in its campaign for an independent nation.

Until now, the group has mainly used France to launch operations in Spain and to stash weapons and explosives. But the group's presence in France has become increasingly less secure in recent years, as French and Spanish police have stepped up their campaign against it and arrested a number of top commandos.

But one member of the State Department designated terrorist organization told the Associated Press news agency the shooting was not a calculated shift in the group's strategy in France.

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