FILE PHOTO: Three members of Basque separatist group ETA call for a definitive end to 50 years of armed struggle, which has cost the lives of at least 850 people, in this still image taken from an undated video published on the website of Basque lang
FILE PHOTO: Three members of Basque separatist group ETA call for a definitive end to 50 years of armed struggle, which has cost the lives of at least 850 people, in this still image taken from an undated video published on the website of Basque lang

The Basque separatist group ETA is formally dissolving after 60 years and giving up its fight for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southern France.

Spain's El Diario newspaper published a letter on its website Wednesday from the remaining ETA leaders. 

"ETA has decided to declare its historical cycle and functions terminated, putting an end to its journey. ... ETA has completely dissolved all of its structures and declared an end to its political initiative," the letter said.

But the letter said that what it called the conflict between the Basque Country and Spain and France would continue.

Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said the government would continue to hunt down those it called Basque terrorists.

"They will not obtain a thing for making a declaration they call a dissolution," he said.

ETA, whose full name translates to "Basque Homeland and Freedom" in the Basque language, is responsible for around 850 deaths in its campaign of violence and terrorism in the fight for Basque separatism.

Basque militants founded the group in response to Spain's military dictator Francisco Franco, who banned the Basque language in public.

But Basques say they were marginalized and suppressed for decades before Franco seized power in 1939.

Some of ETA's high-profile terror victims include Prime Minister Luis Carrero — Franco's handpicked successor — and Miguel Angel Blanco, a young politician whose 1997 kidnapping and brutal assassination turned hundreds of thousands of Spaniards against ETA and any grievances it might have had.

ETA had announced a permanent cease-fire in 2011 and gave up the last of its weapons in 2017.