Basque separatist group ETA announces its dissolution

Basque separatist group ETA announces its dissolution

Basque separatist group ETA announces its dissolution

Basque separatist group ETA formally declared its dissolution on Thursday, marking the definitive end to western Europe's last armed insurgency.

In its early years, the ETA fought against the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, and won substantial autonomous powers to the Basque region when democracy was introduced in the 1978 constitution.

ETA said it has "completely dismantled all of its structures" and will "no longer express political positions, promote initiatives or interact with other actors".

The statement was released to global media and was also read out at the lakeside Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, which for the past 15 years has been involved in mediating the Basque conflict.

Nearly half the killings blamed on ETA have not yet been fully been investigated.

Violence escalated in the 1960s and Franco's regime responded in kind, as the group assassinated politicians and officials as well as bombing public places.

No members of the group were present, although they simultaneously published an audio recording of the statement read in several languages by veteran, high-level ETA member Jose Antonio Urrutikoetxea - better known as Josu Ternera and who remains wanted by police - and jailed ETA militant Marixol Iparraguirre.

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The armed Basque separatist group ETA announced Thursday in an official statement that it had "completely dissolved all its structures".

Government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said Spain would continue to pursue suspects in crimes attributed to ETA.

"We don't owe them anything and we have nothing to thank them for", Rajoy added.

While Bildu leader Arnaldo Otegi welcomed ETA's announcement, he vowed to keep pushing for independence for the wealthy northern region, saying it "does not know peace or freedom".

Crackdowns by Spanish and French police also weakened it.

"I don't believe in the end of ETA because there are lots of deaths that haven't come to light, lots of murders that have never been cleared up, lots of victims who have not been compensated", said Carmen, an economist who lives in the Basque city of San Sebastian, declining to give her surname.

ETA, considered a terrorist organization by the European Union, announced it would disband after more than a half-century - during which more than 800 people died amid its campaign of violence. But some have rejected the separatist group's declaration, calling it "propaganda". "The whole ETA project was a resounding and complete failure", he said.

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