googletag.pubads().setTargeting('kvcontentid', 'ie_195461'); googletag.pubads().setTargeting('kvkeywords', ['inskin_yes']);

French police arrest key ETA leaders amid fears of fresh recruitment drive

French police have arrested ETA’s military leader Oroitz Gurruchaga Gogorza and his deputy in a joint operation on the Basque separatist group with the Spanish police.

Gurruchaga and Xabier Aramburu were arrested in the southwestern French village of Cauna while travelling in a stolen vehicle with fake number plates, the Spanish interior ministry said, adding that both men were armed with guns.

“The presence of both men in southern France could indicate they were setting up meetings to recruit new ETA members,” the ministry said.

Gurruchaga, 30, joined ETA in 2008 and rose through the organisation’s ranks to become its military and recruiting chief, according to the ministry.

Spanish police believe Aramburu, 32, is responsible for a series of bomb attacks in Basque country in 2008, including the car bombing of a police station.

ETA is blamed for 829 killings during a four- decade armed campaign for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southern France.

The arrests come just over a year after those of then-ETA military boss Alejandro Zorbaran Arriola, known as “Xarla”, and three other suspected ETA militants at a rural house in northern France.

They bring to 15 the number of people arrested on suspicion of ETA ties since the group announced “the definitive cease of its armed activity” in October last year. Despite the announcement, ETA has not surrendered any weapons or disbanded.

French interior minister Manuel Valls, who is due to visit Spain today, joined his Spanish counterpart Jorge Fernandez Diaz earlier this month in calling for ETA to disband.

ETA is pressing for direct talks with the French and Spanish governments, but both ministers have rejected any negotiations.


Last week, I wrote about 'small is beautiful' as a key to an improved environment for all living things after this Covid crisis is finally over. As I wrote, I saw, in the mind's eye, the village where I live in west Cork and from which my wife and I are temporarily exiled.Damien Enright: Community spirit can ensure we pull through - together

Fifty years ago, a fox was spotted in Dublin’s St. Stephen’s Green. The unfortunate animal was chased by local ‘gurriers’. It took refuge in a tree but was promptly stoned to death.Richard Collins: Wildlife taking back the streets of our cities

The north pier on Cape Clear has been eerily quiet these last few months as no visitors disembark. The ferry is not unloading boatloads of tourists from Baltimore, 45 minutes away, or from Schull, as it would normally.The Islands of Ireland: Cape Clear tells its side of the story

If the Donegal postman and amateur weather forecaster has it right, we could be in for water shortages in the coming months. Michael Gallagher, who predicted the scorching summer of 2018 and the 2010 freeze-up, says we’ll have a ‘lovely’ summer.Donal Hickey: Demand for water to soar

More From The Irish Examiner