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Basque militant separatists ETA say they have disarmed: BBC

The BBC cited what it said was a letter from ETA declaring it had handed all its weapons to civilian go-betweens and was now a disarmed organisation. In photo: Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy. Photograph: (Reuters)

Reuters Madrid, Spain Apr 07, 2017, 08.33 AM (IST)

Basque militant separatist group ETA, which waged a bloody campaign for independence from Spain for over half a century, said early on Friday it had given up all its arms and explosives.

The BBC cited what it said was a letter from ETA declaring it had handed all its weapons to civilian go-betweens and was now a disarmed organisation.

The move stops short of a full disbanding of the organisation that has killed more than 850 people in its quest for an independent state in the mountainous Basque region that incorporates part of northern Spain and south-western France.

The middlemen are due to hand over the weapons to authorities on Saturday in the French city of Bayonne in a process first flagged in March by Basque activists.

The letter, published in full on the BBC website, gave no details on how the handover would be carried out. It is not clear if the process will be formally accepted by the Spanish and French governments.

Spain's ruling Popular Party, which refuses to negotiate with ETA, said the planned handover was a surrender.

"On April 8, ETA will accept its defeat after nearly six years in which it said it would make concessions which never materialised," the PP's representative in the Basque parliament, Alfonso Alonso, told national radio late on Thursday.

No government representative was immediately available for comment on Friday.

ETA declared a ceasefire in 2011, but did not disarm. The group, formed in 1959 during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, has been severely weakened in recent years after authorities arrested hundreds of its members and seized several of its weapons stashes. 

(Reuters)

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