Armed Basque separatist group Eta said it “maintains its commitment” to peace, according to a statement published on Wednesday after the arrest of two of its political leaders in France last week.
David Pla, 40, and Iratxe Sorzabal, a 43-year-old woman, were seized in the Pyrenees village of Saint-Etienne-de-Baigorry in southwest France, one of Eta's strongholds, in a joint operation between France and Spanish police on September 22nd.
A French police source said Sorzabal had been wanted for “at least ten years” while Pla had been on the run since 2011.
Iratxe Sorzabal and David Pla were arrested in France in September Photo: Interior Ministry
“Police operations in recent months have aimed to undermine the resolution process” of the conflict, Eta said in a statement dated September 27th published by Basque newspaper Naiz, a traditional mouthpiece for the group.
“Despite the offensives, and because the Basque Country must continue on its way, Eta maintains its commitment to the creation of new scenarios. It seems that the Spanish government, with the assistance of the French government wants to force Eta to fold.”
Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said the arrest of the two suspects “completes the decapitation of Eta”.
The group, classed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union, is blamed for 829 deaths during a four-decade campaign of shooting and bombing for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southern France.
Eta in 2011 announced it had halted its armed activities, but it has refused to hand over its weapons or dissolve the organisation, as demanded by both France and Spain.
The group began a unilateral disarmament programme in early 2014, in cooperation with the International Verification Commission, an independent group of experts from various countries that has not been officially recognized by the Spanish government.