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Spain: Basque terrorist group ETA says it has disbanded

03 May 2018, 02:29 | Myrtle Vega

ETA disbands after decades-long armed struggle

Consuelo Ordeonez sister of Grerorio Ordonez who was killed in 1995 by the armed separatist armed group ETA center holds up a sign reading ″ETA killed 853 innocent people. They want to put the sign on zero″ beside to Maite Pagazaurtundua left

The Basque separatist group ETA said it has dismantled its organizational structure after a six-decade independence campaign that killed hundreds in Spain, taking the final step in disbanding after disarming previous year and bringing an end to one of Europe's bloodiest nationalist conflicts in recent times.

Basque separatist group ETA has "completely dissolved all its structures and ended its political initiative", according to a letter published online by Spain's El Diario newspaper.

"The Basque Country stands before a new opportunity to definitively close the cycle of conflict and construct its future together", it said in a letter dated April 16 but published Wednesday by Spanish media. A Basque regional government representative told AFP that following the letter, ETA was expected make a further direct declaration of its disbandment tomorrow, probably in a video.

The last victim of ETA was a French policeman in 2010, and in 2017, the group announced its definitive disarmament.

Founded in the late 1950s, Eta claimed its first victim, civil guard José Pardines, in 1968 and went on to kill over 800 people during its campaign for an independent Basque state. "Before and after this statement, they will be pursued wherever they are", he said.

But the letter said that what it called the conflict between the Basque Country and Spain and France would continue.

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"It's the end of the armed struggle, but it's about continuing the same fight through different means", says Josian, who works for a gas company, on the rainy streets of seaside resort San Sebastian, the city worst hit by ETA.

The bloodiest period came in the early 1980s, as Spain transitioned to democracy. It targeted not only members of the military and police forces, but politicians, entrepreneurs, civilians and some of its own members who wanted to leave ETA.

The terrorist group is thought to be responsible for killing 829 people. Some 2,600 people were also injured by its long-running armed campaign.

"The conflict did not start with ETA and it does not finish with the end of ETA's journey", it said.

In what became known as Spain's "dirty war" on terror, at least 28 separatists were killed by death squads set up by members of Spain's security forces to perform extrajudicial killings of ETA militants.

The group has demanded that prisoners be moved to prisons closer to their families after the end of ETA.

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