Portuguese police find ETA base

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The Independent Online

Portuguese police seized a large amount of explosives yesterday at a home being used by Basque separatist group ETA as a base to prepare attacks in neighboring Spain, officials said.

About 500kg of explosives were found inside a garage at the house, bomb squad commander Helder Barros said at a news conference. A considerable amount of bomb-making equipment was also found, he said.

The discovery was made after two occupants of a stolen van containing material, including detonators, had fled from a police control near the central town of Obidos, police spokesman Nelson dos Santos said.

A search of the area led to a house which police believe was used as a base by suspected ETA members Andoni Zengotitabengoa Fernandez and Oier Gomez Mielgo, Dos Santos said.

ETA has killed more than 825 people since launching a violent campaign in 1968 aimed at carving an independent Basque homeland straddling northern Spain and southwestern France. France has for decades been used by ETA as its favored cross-border destination from which to plan attacks.

The latest discovery in Portugal is likely to have dealt a blow to ETA's efforts to create a new base, bordering Spain to the west.

Two suspected ETA members were arrested in Portugal on 10 January when they fled across the border after one had been stopped while driving a van loaded with explosives near a Spanish police barracks.