Basque terrorist group ETA to hand over weapons

Basque terrorist group ETA to hand over weaponsThe Basque militant group ETA says it will hand over all its weapons on Saturday - but warns that its enemies might still block the process, The BBC reported on Friday.

The pledge came in a letter obtained by the BBC, confirming earlier reports about ETA disarmament plans.

Over 40 years of violence aimed at Basque independence ETA had killed more than 800 people and wounded thousands.

ETA declared a ceasefire in 2011 but did not disarm. Spain refuses to negotiate with the armed group.

The letter, dated 7 April, says that "after giving up all its weaponry (arms and explosives) to Basque civil society representatives [ETA] now is a disarmed organisation".

But further on it warns that "the process is not completed" and "'disarmament day' is tomorrow".

"We want to warn that still the process can be attacked by the enemies of peace. The only real guarantee to succeed are the thousands of people gathering tomorrow in Bayonne [south-western France] supporting the disarmament," the group said.

Basque terrorist group ETA to hand over weapons

In recent years police in France and Spain have put ETA under severe pressure, arresting hundreds of militants, including leadership figures, and seizing many of the group's weapons.

Spanish media have speculated that ETA may not have many weapons left, after so many successful police operations.

Last month France's Le Monde daily reported that a pro-Basque independence and environmental group called Bizi had been given responsibility for the disarmament. It was quoting a Bizi activist.

Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said ETA would not get anything in exchange for disarming.

"What ETA must do is dissolve itself and disappear," he said, commenting on the report in Le Monde.

ETA was set up more than 50 years ago in the era of Spanish dictator General Franco. Its first known killing was in 1968, when a secret police chief, Meliton Manzanas, was shot dead in the Basque city of San Sebastian.
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