The Basque separatist militant group ETA declared a ceasefire in a video statement issued today.
The video showed three masked militants making a statement in Basque. The statement appeared on Basque newspaper Gara’s website and was also made available to the BBC.
Gara accompanied the video with a transcription of the statement in Basque and Spanish.
“ETA makes it known that as of some months ago it took the decision to no longer employ offensive armed actions,” the statement said, suggesting it is ready to pursue a “democratic process,” in trying to achieve its goals.
ETA is seeking an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and south-western France. It is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the US It has killed more than 825 people since the late 1960s.
The group last announced what it called a “permanent ceasefire” in March 2006, but on December 30 of the same year the organisation set off a powerful car bomb at Madrid’s Barajas airport that killed two people.
It was not clear whether the new truce offer is permanent or whether ETA is signalling it is ready for peace talks with the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
There was no immediate response from Spanish authorities.
The group has been weakened by the arrests of several of its key leaders in Spain, France and Portugal, where a bomb-making factory was discovered by police.