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ETA gunmen kill Spanish guard

  • Story Highlights
  • ETA gunmen kill Spanish civil guard, injure another in southern France
  • First fatality blamed on Spanish separatist group in nearly a year
  • Officers were in Capbreton to meet French police about operations against ETA
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By CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Members of the Basque separatist group ETA have shot dead a Spanish civil guard and seriously wounded another in southern France, Spanish officials said.

It is the first fatality blamed on ETA in nearly a year. The separatist group claimed responsibility for a December 30, 2006, car bomb at the Madrid airport that killed two men and destroyed a parking garage.

The two plainsclothes civil guard officers were in Capbreton, France, to meet with French police about joint operations against ETA, which traditionally uses France as a base for its attacks in Spain, a Spanish Interior Ministry spokeswoman told CNN.

It appeared the ETA gunmen recognized the civil guards at a cafe where they had breakfast, the spokeswoman said. The gunmen followed the guards when they left the cafe, and shot them while they were getting into their car, she said.

She said there were three ETA suspects -- two men whom authorities believe are responsible for the shooting, and a woman.

The ETA suspects fled in a car, later leaving it to commandeer a second car, the spokeswoman said. They held a French woman and her son but quickly released them, she said.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero canceled his schedule for the weekend and made a statement offering condolences to the slain civil guard's family, as well as words of support for the other civil guard who is in a French hospital. He vowed: "Those who did this will be arrested and tried, and will pay for this."

Spanish and French interior ministers who were attending a meeting in Germany, abruptly left the meeting to return to France.

ETA, which the United States and European Union list as a terrorist group, is blamed for more than 800 killings.

ETA declared a "permanent" cease-fire in March 2006, raising hopes for an end to the violence, but the car bomb at Madrid's airport shattered the fledgling peace process. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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