Eta blamed for killing of two traffic police

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The Independent Online

Assailants firing at close range killed two traffic police officers in the Basque region last night in an attack blamed on the separatist group Eta.

Assailants firing at close range killed two traffic police officers in the Basque region last night in an attack blamed on the separatist group Eta.

The attackers, a man and a woman, walked up to the officers as they directed traffic in Beasain, near San Sebastian. Whether both opened fire, or only one, was not clear.

One of the officers, a woman, died instantly. Her colleague, a man, died about two hours later after being taken to hospital, the Basque Interior Ministry said. State radio said that one had been hit in the head and the other in the back.

The female officer was named as Ana Isabel Arostegi, 34, who was married to a policeman and who had three children. Her colleague was Javier Mijangos, 32.

Enrique Villar, the Spanish government's most senior representative in the Basque region, blamed Eta for the attack. He urged Basques to repudiate Eta and its claim to be fighting for the liberation of an oppressed people. "Let's not be naive. The enemy of Spain and the Basque country is Eta, and it is against Eta that we must stand," he said from the regional capital, Vitoria.

Eta has been fighting since 1968 to carve an independent Basque homeland out of lands in northern Spain and southwest France. Since calling off a 14-month ceasefire in January 2000, Eta has claimed or been blamed for 38 deaths, including the two last night. Eta generally attacks politicians, military personnel and police.

Yesterday's was the second attack this week on the Basque regional police force. On Monday, two officers in Bilbao were injured when a remote- controlled bomb exploded near them as they tried to remove a banner with a slogan urging Eta to kill police officers.

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