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France

ETA suspected in killing of French police officer

©

Video by Florence VILLEMINOT

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-17

A French policeman was shot dead in a Paris suburb on Tuesday when his patrol came under fire as it tried to halt a speeding car. Investigators say the car's occupants may have been members of Basque separatist movement ETA.

AFP - A French policeman died Tuesday in a shootout southeast of Paris with Basque-speaking gunmen linked by Spanish media to the Basque armed separatist group ETA. 

"Several leads were being explored" on Wednesday, said sources close to the inquiry, with the "most serious" implicating ETA after one of the men involved in the shootout was arrested and gave a Basque identity.

The firefight broke out near Dammarie-les-Lys, 50 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of the French capital, after a police patrol checked the identities of a group that had stolen cars from a garage. 

Sources close to the inquiry said a police patrol tried to question three men and a woman in a stolen BMW near Dammarie-les-Lys when a second vehicle with two men on board pulled up and one of them opened fire. 

A 52-year-old policeman died, hit in the thorax despite his bulletproof vest. His colleagues returned fire but it was not known if any of the group was hit.    

Spanish daily El Mundo identified the man who was arrested as Josebo Fernandez Aspurz, saying he "was speaking Basque and identified himself as a member of the terrorist organization." 

ETA, regarded as a terrorist group by both the European Union and the United States, is blamed for 828 deaths in its 41-year campaign for independence for the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France.    

It resumed its attacks in mid-2007 after a 15-month truce and abortive negotiations with the socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, which has since adopted a firm firm line against the group.

Around 100 alleged members of ETA were arrested in 2009 and some 30 since the start of the year, many of them in France thanks to cooperation between French and Spanish police. 

Date created : 2010-03-17

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