Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • Limited 12-hour humanitarian truce takes effect in Gaza

    Read more

  • Video: No investigation apparent at MH17 crash site

    Read more

  • In pictures: Devastation, debris at Air Algérie crash site

    Read more

  • Paris march for Gaza to go ahead Saturday despite police ban

    Read more

  • Kerry due in Paris for new round of Gaza ceasefire talks

    Read more

  • Washington Post reporter and his wife arrested in Iran

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Fans electrify the mood as Tour de France crosses the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

French police arrest suspected ETA chief

Latest update : 2008-12-08

French anti-terrorism police have arrested a suspect who they claim to be the military chief of the Basque separatist group ETA, just weeks after capturing his alleged predecessor "Txeroki".

AFP - French anti-terrorism police on Monday arrested the suspected military chief of the Basque separatist group ETA, just weeks after capturing his alleged predecessor "Txeroki", the interior ministry said.
   
The suspect was picked up on a street in the village of Gerde in southwest France around 6:00 pm (1700 GMT) together with two other ETA suspects. They were carrying revolvers and fake documents.
   
French police moved in on the three men after receiving a tip-off from domestic intelligence services.
   
Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said the arrests showed France's "resolute commitment in the fight against Basque terrorism" and congratulated the officers involved in the operation.
   
The interior ministry said in a statement that one of them "had already been identified as the alleged successor to Txeroki as ETA military chief."
   
Miguel de Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, known as "Txeroki" or Cherokee, was arrested on November 17 in the French Pyrenees spa resort of Cauterets and charged with terrorism offences.
   
Alliot-Marie phoned Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba to give him the news and at a press conference in Madrid, Rubalcaba identified the main suspect arrested Monday as Aitzol Iriondo Yarza.
   
He is thought to have replaced Txeroki as head of ETA's military wing, Rubalcaba told reporters, adding: "He could be linked to the killing in Capbreton."
   
In December 2007, two undercover Spanish police officers were killed in Capbreton, in France's southwestern Landes region, by suspected ETA gunmen.
   
Two of the alleged killers were arrested a few days after the attack. But the third assailant escaped and has never been identified.
   
A judge in Paris last month charged Txeroki with having helped prepare the killings, but not with murder.
   
Rubalcaba also linked Iriondo to the killing of a Basque businessman on Wednesday.
   
The victim, Ignacio Uria Mendizabal, 71, was the head of a company, Altuna y Uria, involved in the construction of a high-speed rail network in the region -- a project opposed by ETA.
   
"It is not too bold to say that either Txeroki or Aitzol Iriondo were behind the order" to kill Uria, Rubalcaba added.
   
He warned ETA that any replacement for Iriondo would be hunted down.
   
"I don't know if any terrorist is thinking of taking over from Aitzol Iriondo, (but) I can assure them that, from this moment, we are looking for you," he said.
   
France and Spain have stepped up cooperation to crack down on ETA since a special accord was signed in January 2008 allowing Spanish agents to operate in southwestern France.
   
ETA has been waging a 40-year campaign for an independent Basque homeland which has left more than 820 people dead.
   
Txeroki's arrest last month was the biggest blow against ETA since the group's presumed leader, Javier Lopez Pena, was detained along with three other suspected members in France in May.
   
Spanish police believe Txeroki, currently being held in a Paris jail, is connected to all the major ETA operations carried out since late 2003 when he took over the outfit's military operations.
   
That includes the Madrid airport bomb attack in December 2006 that killed two Ecuadorian men and led the Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to end its tentative peace talks with ETA.
   
Once a safe haven for Basque militants, France began arresting ETA suspects after the group called off a 15-month-old ceasefire in June 2007.
   
At least 36 people who were either ETA members or linked to the group have been arrested in France since the beginning of the year, according to French interior ministry figures.
 

Date created : 2008-12-08

COMMENT(S)