ETA prisoners join call for lasting Basque ceasefire

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 23, 2011 5:04 PM
ETA prisoners join call for lasting Basque ceasefire

MADRID (Reuters) - Prisoners belonging to ETA have joined a call for a permanent ceasefire by the Basque separatist group, the newspaper traditionally used by the guerrillas said on Friday, raising hopes that an end to four decades of violence was a step closer.

The official Basque prisoners' collective EPPK, which includes some 700 prisoners in Spain and France, had been debating for 10 months whether to adhere to the 2010 Guernica agreement which demands that ETA lay down its arms, the newspaper Gara said.

ETA, which has killed more than 850 people in its half-century of armed struggle for an independent state in northern Spain and southwest France, declared a permanent ceasefire last year, but the Spanish government rejected it as insufficient because it did not come with full disarmament.

The organization has been weakened by a string of arrests and seizures of arms caches in Spain, France and Portugal, yet a political group linked to ETA won unprecedented control of city halls in Spain's Basque Country in recent local elections.

(Reporting By Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Tim Pearce)