Six Suspected Basque Separatists Arrested, Explosives Seized
Spanish police have arrested six suspected members of the Basque separatist group ETA and seized 200 kilograms (440 lbs) of explosives in the Catalonia region, where the guerrillas have been waging a bombing campaign against key tourist sites.
Interior minister Mariano Rajoy announced the arrests Friday following a swoop on apartments in and around Barcelona.
The police operation comes less than a week after a car-bomb blast in Salou, a popular Spanish resort 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the city, attributed to ETA which is seeking to disrupt Spain's holiday industry in its campaign for independence from Madrid.
It also followed a raid two days ago in the Basque region of northern Spain when police arrested eight ETA suspects and uncovered a booby-trapped car primed for use as well as 160 kilograms (352 pounds) of explosives.
Three of the six arrested Friday were named by police as members of the Basque terrorist group ETA: Unai Lopez de Ocary, Nerea Bengoa Zarsiolo and Fernando Garcia Jodra. The other three were said to be collaborators.
Garcia Jodra, 30, is accused of being one of the ETA team responsible for the murder of three Catalan politicians and a Catalan policeman late last year.
He escaped from police in Barcelona on January 11 at the time of the arrest of an ETA team in a car loaded with 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of explosives.
The three ETA members are accused of other acts of terrorism too numerous to go into, said Mariano Rajoy.
In addition to the explosives seized Friday in four apartments in Barcelona and Tarrassa, there were also four pistols, a sub-machinegun, electronic detonators, and lots of documentation.
Half of the explosives consisted of Titadyn which had been stolen by ETA in Grenoble in the French Alps on March 7, and the other half was stolen in a preceding raid at Plevin in the west of France, according to sources close to the investigation quoted by the Spanish agency Vasco Press.
Mariano Rajoy refused to confirm a link between the seized material and the campaign of killings in recent weeks targeted on Mediterranean coastal resorts, most notably the booby-trapped car in Salou on August 18, and the disarming of another car bomb, at Malaga, in the southern province of Andalusia, on July 26.
The police crackdown earlier this week in the Basque region followed a booby-trapped toy car attack in San Sebastian that killed a grandmother and blinded her grandson.
ETA has denied responsibility for this attack, which has been blamed on sympathizers.
Seven of the eight arrested were still being held Friday by police.
Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish judge who controversially tried but failed to get Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet put on trial in Europe for crimes against humanity, has been chosen to head the investigations -- BARCELONA, Spain (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)