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Basque separatist group ETA announces full dissolution

03 May 2018

Basque separatist group ETA has announced it is fully disbanding, marking the definitive end to its deadly independence campaign and to western Europe's last armed insurgency.

"Basque separatist group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) has chose to end its political activities and completely dissolve all its structures", the El Diario online outlet reported Wednesday.

In a letter sent to Basque organisations, the ETA - whose initials translate as Basque Homeland and Freedom or Euskadi ta Askatasuna - even issued a partial apology for its actions.

The militant group said the dissolution "doesn't overcome the conflict that the Basque Country maintains with Spain and with France".

In what he describes as a "statement to the Basque Country" he says the group's "journey has ended".

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"They must pay for what they did", he said about the group, which had killed 829 people in its struggle to establish an independent state in Spain's northern Basque region and south west corner of France.

Government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said Spain would continue to pursue suspects in crimes attributed to ETA.

Eta killed more than 800 people during its decades-long campaign of violence.

The ETA killed more than 850 people between 1968 and 2010 before announcing a permanent ceasefire in 2011.

"ETA obtained nothing through its promise to stop killing, and it will obtain nothing by announcing what they call dissolution", he told reporters.

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The group - deemed a "terrorist organisation" by several countries including Spain, France, and the United States - was founded in 1959 during General Francisco Franco's rule in Spain.

Violence escalated in the 1960s and Franco's regime responded in kind, as the group assassinated politicians and officials as well as bombing public places.

Consuelo Ordonez, who leads victims group COVITE and whose brother was killed by ETA, said that "the only decent sentence that the terrorists could have uttered starts and ends with, "We should never have existed".

Some 300 ETA members are imprisoned in Spain, France and Portugal and up to 100 are still on the run, according to Forum Social, a group close to prisoners' families.

At least 358 crimes believed to involve ETA are unresolved, according to Covite, an association of victims, survivors and their relatives that is campaigning for ETA members to be held to account.

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Basque separatist group ETA announces full dissolution