Cautious welcome for latest ceasefire by ETA
ETA, THE Basque terrorist group, announced a ceasefire yesterday, declaring it would abandon violence in favour of a "democratic solution" to achieve independence from Spain.
A video showed three masked members wearing berets and seated at a table with the ETA symbol behind them.
"ETA announces that several months ago it took the decision not to carry out armed attacks," a woman read in the Basque language, her face hidden behind a white hood with holes cut for the eyes.
"ETA re-affirms its commitment to a democratic solution so that through dialogue and negotiation we Basque citizens can decide our future in a free and democratic manner."
The group called on the Spanish government to open negotiations but was vague about its terms. It made no mention of disarming, considered by the socialist government as key to the start of a formal peace process.
The announcement was greeted "with caution" by Madrid in the knowledge that two previous "permanent ceasefires" were broken.
Spanish officials say the declaration could be a tactical withdrawal reflecting military weakness.
Recent police operations have led to dozens of arrests.
The last fatal attack in Spain to be blamed on ETA was in July 2009 when two police officers were blown up in a car bomb on Majorca.
Several other bombs were detonated in the following days but no other attack has taken place on Spanish soil since.
ETA's last ceasefire was announced in March 2006 and led prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to enter talks with the group.
Those talks were brought to an abrupt end nine months later when ETA planted a bomb in the car park at Madrid's Barajas airport, killing two people.
ETA has claimed more than 820 lives in a violent campaign for an independent homeland encompassing parts of north-western Spain and south-eastern France.
Yesterday's announcement follows apparent efforts by Batasuna, the political wing of ETA that was outlawed in 2003, to forge a peaceful way forward in an attempt to get back into the political process. (©Daily Telegraph London)