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Suspected ETA members arrested

Suspected ETA members arrested

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Police have arrested four suspected members of the Basque separatist group ETA after they had been refused asylum in Cuba.

Two of the four suspected rebels were arrested after they left the Cuban Embassy in Madrid on Monday evening, where they had hurriedly sought political asylum.

They had tried to flee in fear of imminent arrest, according to Spanish Interior Minister Jamie Mayor Oreja.

He praised the Cuban Embassy for contacting Spanish police and not granting immediate asylum.

 IN-DEPTH
graphic Basque conflict: Violence in Spain


  • Overview
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Two people accompanying the ETA suspects were also arrested later.

The arrests come a week after a car bomb attributed to the Basque separatists killed three people and wounded 64 in Madrid, widely seen as the biggest attack yet in ETA's deadliest offensive since 1992.

None of the suspects arrested were thought to have taken part in the October 30 car bombing in Madrid, but Mayor Oreja said they were preparing to carry out a fresh attack within days or weeks.

ETA, whose initials stand for Basque Homeland and Liberty, have fought 32 years for Basque independence and are blamed for about 800 killings since 1968.

Police searched four apartments thought to have been used by the ETA suspects arrested on Monday, seizing two pistols and fake documents.

Three of the apartments were in Madrid and the fourth in the town of Azuqueca de Henares, 19 miles (30 kilometres) east of Madrid.

One woman among the suspects was thought to have been linked to an ETA operation partially dismantled by police last August in the northern province of Aragon.



RELATED STORIES:
Spanish police arrest nine ETA suspects
October 5, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Euskal Herritarrok (in Basque)
Basque Autonomous Region
Association for Peace in the Basque Country
Spanish Interior Ministry

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