AFP - Two suspected members of the Basque armed separatist group ETA were at large Sunday after a police chase in France, a judicial source said.
Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, the source said the two men, probably armed, fled on foot into woods after crashing their car whilst being pursued by gendarmes in the Nievre region of southeast France late Saturday.
"They are suspected of belonging to ETA as documents in the Basque language were found in the car they abandoned," said the source. Questioned about their identity the source simply said they were "two men."
One of them was said to have fired in the air as they left their vehicle. A search party was combing the area early Sunday.
The source said gendarmes were alerted after the pair refused to pay for petrol at a service station in Nievre. Spotted by a patrol, they balked at an identity check and took flight.
Since the start of 2009, 11 suspected members of ETA have been detained in France and a further 11 in Spain, according to Spanish media.
During an operation carried out by French and Spanish police on Saturday, the authorities detained the suspected military chief of ETA, Jurdan Martitegi, in southwestern France along with two other suspected members of the outfit.
Considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States, ETA is blamed for the deaths of 825 people in its 40-year campaign of bombings and shootings to carve a Basque homeland out of parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.