September 5, 2010 / 12:39 PM / 9 years ago

Factbox: Key facts about Basque separatist group ETA

(Reuters) - Basque separatist group ETA has decided to stop carrying out armed attacks, according to a statement published by Basque-language newspaper Gara on its website on Sunday.

Following are some facts about ETA:

* WHAT IS ETA?

— ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna, or Basque Country and Freedom) is fighting for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southwestern France.

— The group was founded more than half a century ago during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, who banned the use of the Basque language.

* CONTINUED VIOLENCE:

— The group has killed more than 850 people since 1968, typically using car bombs or shootings.

— Spain, the United States and the European Union have listed ETA as a terrorist organization. The Socialist government broke off peace talks with ETA after the rebels killed two people with a car bomb at Madrid airport in December 2006, the first time ETA had killed since May 2003.

— The last ETA-related fatality was the murder of a French policeman near Paris in March 2010 in a shoot out — the first French security officer to be killed by ETA. French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to hunt down its supporters.

— The previous ETA-related killings were in July 2009 when a bomb claimed by the group killed two police officers on the island of Majorca.

* GOVERNMENT CRACK DOWN

— The government believes ETA has been severely weakened by hundreds of arrests in recent years. Spain’s interior ministry has said 62 ETA members were arrested in Spain, France and other countries in the first six months of the year.

— The group’s leader, wanted for trying to kill Spain’s King Juan Carlos in 1997, was caught in February in northern France along with two senior ETA members.

— The suspected military leader of ETA, known as Ata, was arrested in France in May.

— Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero reiterated during the summer his government’s policy of not negotiating any pact with ETA.

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