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Latest ETA 'permanent ceasefire' rejected by Madrid

THE Basque terrorist group ETA has announced a "permanent ceasefire" renouncing violence after 40 years of bloodshed and more than 800 deaths.

The declaration was made in a video featuring three militants, their faces hidden by white hoods beneath black berets.

"This is ETA's firm commitment towards a process to achieve a lasting resolution and. . . an end to the armed confrontation," a male voice said.

The statement made no mention of handing over weapons -- a move considered key to the Spanish government's entry into dialogue.

ETA has broken ceasefires several times, most recently in 2006. The latest one was rejected by the socialist government, which said it did not go far enough.

Past ceasefires have been seen as attempts by ETA to regroup with a view to launching further attacks. In December 2006, the group broke a so-called "permanent ceasefire" with an attack at Madrid Airport. The bomb killed two men nine months after ETA called its truce.

"If you ask me if I am calmer today, honestly I would say 'yes'. If you ask me if it is the end, I would say 'no'. If you ask me if this statement is what Spanish society was hoping for, I would say 'absolutely no'," said Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, the deputy prime minister. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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