War is over, says Basque terror group

THE BASQUE separatist guerrilla group Eta last night announced an "indefinite and total" truce to take effect today. The ceasefire, which was without conditions according to local news reports, will bring to an end 30 years of violent struggle for an independent state in which more than 800 people have died.

The announcement, published in the Basque separatist newspaper Euskaki Informacion, followed weeks of speculation that the rebel group was close to declaring a truce that would offer the chance of peace in Spain's Basque country for the first time in decades.

Eta set no conditions for observing the ceasefire but warned it would end it in the event of a "confrontation" with the government.

The example of Northern Ireland would certainly have had considerable effect in swaying the Eta leadership. After the Northern Ireland peace agreement was forged earlier this year, the Basque separatist group said it was "ready to learn" from the peace process. Last night's four-page announcement, written in the Basque language, also makes references to the Good Friday peace agreement. The communique said "new political majorities" are forming in the Basque country and that because of this Eta is in a position "to take risks".

This was apparently in reference to a weekend initiative in which moderate Basque nationalist parties, a mainstream leftist coalition and grassroots groups joined Eta's political wing, Herri Batasuna, in calling for peace talks to end the bloodshed in the Basque country.

The centre-right government of the Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar rejected that appeal, reiterating its stance that talks with Eta are impossible until the group renounces violence for good.

The Interior Minister Jaime Mayor Oreja warned on Monday that an Eta ceasefire would be an electioneering stunt designed to draw more votes for Herri Batasuna in Basque regional elections scheduled for 25 October.

The moderate nationalist government in the Basque country has consistently called on the separatists to give up violence but has not made this a condition for peace talks.

This is the first time Eta has announced an open-ended ceasefire. Its longest cease-fire came in 1989 during what were supposed to be secret peace talks with the Spanish government, held in Algiers. The talks went nowhere and Eta resumed its violent campaign for independence.

The last time Eta attacked was on 25 June of this year when it killed a town councillor of the ruling Popular Party in the Basque town of Renteria. He was the sixth person killed by Eta this year.

Traditionally Eta has gone after military personnel and police but starting in July of last year its preferred targets became ruling party councillors in retaliation for a crackdown by the Aznar government.

Eta, whose name is a Basque-language acronym standing for Basque Homeland and Freedom, last declared a truce in mid-1996. It lasted one week.

Eta's Bloody History

n 1959 Eta is founded with the aim of establishing independence for the Basque country.

1961 Violent campaign begins with an attempt to derail a train transporting politicians.

1968 Eta claims first victim, Meliton Manzanas, a secret police chief in San Sebastian.

1978 Eta's political wing, Herri Batasuna, is founded.

1980 118 people killed in Eta's bloodiest year so far.

1995 Attempt to assassinate the leader of the opposition Popular Party (now Prime Minister), Jose Maria Aznar, with a car bomb.

1996 Right-wing Popular Party wins general election. Eta views the party as successor to General Franco's dictatorship.

July 1997 Eta kidnaps and kills Basque councillor Miguel Angel Blanco, sparking national outrage and bringing six million Spaniards on to the streets.

December 1997 23 leaders of Herri Batasuna jailed for seven years for collaborating with Eta.

April 1998 Northern Ireland peace agreement signed. Eta is understood to have been heavily influenced by the peace process.

June 1998 The latest Eta death as a car bomb kills Popular Party councillor Manuel Zamarreno.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Danczuk has claimed he is a 'man of the world'
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recognised as one of the fastes...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager - Refrigeration

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Finance Manager - Central London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Business Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor