ETA suspects arrested in France after Spain bombs

MADRID Wed Aug 19, 2009 7:48am EDT

1 of 4. Suspected ETA members Andoni Sarasola (L), Alberto Machain Beraza (C) and Aitzol Etxaburu are pictured in this combination of handout photos from the Spanish Interior Ministry released August 19, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Spain Interior Ministry/Handout

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MADRID (Reuters) - Police arrested three armed suspected members of Basque separatist group ETA Wednesday in a French ski resort after a wave of bombings in Spain which killed two people, Spanish and French authorities said.

One of the detainees, Alberto Machain Beraza, was on a list of six wanted ETA suspects released by the government on July 31, the day after a car bomb killed two Spanish Civil Guards on the island of Mallorca.

Spain's Interior Minister Alfredo Rubalcaba said it was too early to say whether the detainees were involved in the Mallorca bombings.

"The detainees were responsible for the material logistics of the military organization," Rubalcaba told a news conference in Madrid.

"It's obvious that ETA is going to try to attack again; our security forces are going to work to ensure they don't achieve that goal," he said.

French police and an anti-terrorism unit searched the suspects' flat in Villarambert-le-Corbier Wednesday morning and confiscated weapons, fake identity papers and computers, a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office in France said.

ETA has carried out three large bombings in the last two months, in what analysts believe is an attempt to demonstrate the organization is still active despite hundreds of arrests.

There have also been reports of growing differences within the guerrilla group, between hardliners and others who would prefer peace talks.

ETA has been blamed for more than 800 deaths in the past 40 years in their campaign to carve out an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southern France.

(Reporting by Teresa Larraz and Tracy Rucinski in Madrid and by Thierry Leveque in Paris; Editing by Matthew Jones)

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