French President Nicolas Sarkozy vows to wipe out ETA bases in France after joining Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at a memorial service for a French police officer killed by a suspected Basque militant.
AFP - President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to eradicate ETA's bases in France as he paid tribute Tuesday to a French policeman killed by a suspected member of the Basque separatist movement.
"We will eradicate one by one all ETA bases in France. We will flush them out one by one. We will dismantle all of the support networks of this terrorist organisation," Sarkozy said at the funeral service for the policeman.
Sarkozy was joined by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for the ceremony in Melun, southeast of Paris, that began with a minute's silence in remembrance of 52-year-old Jean-Serge Nerin.
Nerin was killed during a shootout in a Paris suburb a week ago, the first deadly attack on a French police officer in the Basque group's four-decade armed campaign for an independent homeland.
French anti-terrorism police have arrested a 27-year-old man who identified himself as an ETA member and are hunting five others, including a woman.
"This crime will not go unpunished," Sarkozy said, standing before dozens of fellow police officers.
"We will not allow French territory to serve as a rear base for terrorists and assassins."
ETA, banned as a terrorist group by 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.
Around 100 alleged members of ETA were arrested in 2009 and 33 more since the start of this year, many of them in France thanks to cooperation between French and Spanish police.
French police in February nabbed Ibon Gogeascoechea Arronategui, who was described as ETA's military chief, in northwest France.
France and Spain signed a special accord in January 2008 allowing Spanish agents to operate deep into French territory as part of their joint fight against ETA.
ETA resumed attacks in mid-2007 after a 15-month truce and abortive negotiations with Zapatero's Socialist government, which has since adopted a firm line against the group.
After meeting with Sarkozy at the Elysee palace, Zapatero expressed Spain's gratitude to the president for showing "such a strong commitment to pursue ETA members one by one in France and eradicate all of the places that serve as bases or support."
The French president also pledged "zero tolerance" of cop killers and said parliament would soon be asked to adopt a bill imposing severe sentences of 30 years in jail to those convicted of murdering a police officer.
Date created : 2010-03-23