Basque militants ‘caught’ on video actually Catalans on holiday
Spanish media have reported that five men shown on a surveillance video broadcast throughout France on Friday were firemen on holiday, and not, in fact, suspects in the killing of a policeman near Paris this week.
AFP - Five people identified as ETA suspects in a surveillance video released in France and Spain are in fact firemen from Spain's Catalonia region who were on holiday, Spanish media said Saturday.
France and Spain on Friday released images from closed-circuit television cameras of five people Spanish police said were suspected members of the Basque separatist organisation involved in the killing of a French policeman near Paris this week.
But the government in the northeastern region of Catalonia said the five were in fact Catalan firemen who were on a climbing holiday in France, Spanish national radio reported.
The Catalan fire service was alerted by the men themselves, who had received calls from the family and friends who had recognised them from the video, the Europa Press news agency reported.
The images show five young men at the entrance to a supermarket in the town of Dammarie-les-Lys, southeast of Paris, one of them pushing a trolley.
A Spanish police statement on Friday said had described them as "ETA terrorists" that called for "cooperation from the public to identify them and find them."
A 52-year-old French police officer was fatally wounded during a gun battle that erupted after a routine police check near Dammarie-Les-Lys on Tuesday.
French investigators said they were working on the assumption that ETA was responsible although there has been no claim of responsibility from the group itself.
French anti-terrorism police arrested a 27-year-old man who identified himself as an ETA member and were hunting five others after the murder, a French judicial official said on Wednesday.
It would be the first time a French policeman has been killed by the group in France, where five top leaders have been arrested over the past two years as a result of stepped-up cross-border cooperation.
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.
It 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.