Basque group ETA hands over arms in southern parts of France

It comes after the militants effectively ended half a century of their armed campaign to carve out an independent state from southwest France and northeast Spain - declaring a ceasefire in 2011.

The Basque separatist group Eta, which has promised to give up all its remaining arms by Saturday, has handed over the weapons to members of "civil society" in France, one member of the group has said.

The caches contain 120 firearms, three tonnes of explosives and several thousand rounds of ammunition, according to a spokesman for the group which mediated between Eta and the French authorities.

The Basque militant group Eta handed over the locations of weapons caches to the French police yesterday, marking the closing chapter of almost half a century of separatist violence that has killed more than 800 people.

He said there were many parallels between the processes in Ireland and the Basque region.

Basque student dissidents formed ETA in 1959, but the group's first known killing was not until 1968.

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Violence against Franco's regime ensued and was reciprocated.

Many Basque separatists have pushed for convicted members to serve their prison time closer to their homes, not scattered around Spain and France.

European Union parliament member Maite Pagazaurtundua, whose brother was killed in an Eta attack, put her weight behind a petition "against impunity" for the separatist group which gathered over 15,000 signatures within 24 hours.

Spain "will not make any evaluation of the handing over of weapons today by ETA until they have been analyzed by French authorities", Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said in a televised address.

A man holds a that reads "Historic 8th of April".

In a statement, Mr Cazeneuve welcomed the move: "It's a decisive step towards the end of Basque separatist terrorism".

A government spokesman said on Friday that Madrid's position was unchanged, and that Eta should expect no "benefit" from the forthcoming handover. "Terrorists can not expect any kind of special treatment from the Government and even less impunity for their crimes".

Women speak alongside a mural depicting imprisoned armed Basque group ETA members, under which reads "We Want Them Home", in the Basque town of Hernani, Spain March 31, 2017.

In this two photo combo, masked pro-independence followers of the Basque armed separatist group ETA, prepare to fight against the police during an illegal rally in San Sebastian, northern Spain, on October 26, 2003, top, and people going for a walk in the same street of the old city on April 3, 2017.

"It's important that the disarmament takes place because each and every (weapon) has its history", Joseba Egibar said, as reported by Europa Press.

ETA later began to target politicians, civil servants and journalists, as well as business representatives who refused to pay the "revolutionary tax" demanded to finance the group.

  • Leroy Wright