SPAIN - ETA

ETA claims pre-election assassination

2 min

In a statement to a local paper, the Basque separatist group has claimed responsibility for the shooting of a former town councilman days before the March 9th legislative elections.

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The armed Basque separatist group ETA claimed responsibility on Tuesday for the assassination of a former town councilman two days before a March 9 general election, in a statement sent to the Basque newspaper Gara.

The online edition of the newspaper, which is often used by the group to claim responsibility for its attacks, said it would publish the full ETA statement in its print edition on Wednesday.

In excerpts published in the online edition, ETA said it was responsible for the fatal shooting of Isaias Carrasco in the Basque region as well as four bombings which caused material damage but no deaths.

Carrasco, a Socialist, was shot outside of his home in Mondragon in front of his wife and one of his three daughters.

The shooting led all political parties to cut short their campaigning for the general election in which Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was re-elected to a second term.

ETA is blamed for over 800 deaths in its nearly 40-year campaign for an independent Basque nation encompassing parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.

Zapatero began peace talks with ETA in June 2006, three months after it declared a "permanent" ceasefire, but they turned sour when the group staged a bomb attack that killed two people at Madrid's airport in December of that year.

ETA officially called off its ceasefire in June 2007 citing a lack of concessions on the part of the government in their talks.

Since then Spanish authorities have adopted a hard line, arresting dozens of members of ETA and its banned political wing, Batasuna.

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