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Spain: 3 ETA suspects arrested in France

By Harold Heckle

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Jan. 15 2012 7:45 a.m. MST

MADRID — French police acting alongside Spanish counterparts have arrested three men at a railway station in France on suspicion of belonging to Basque separatist group ETA, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

One of those arrested in Joigny, 150 kilometers (93 miles) southeast of Paris, was identified as 33-year-old Jon Echeverria Oyarbide, for whom there is an international arrest warrant. Police said he was in possession of material used in the manufacture of explosives.

Echevarria was found in possession of bomb-making materials.

The others were identified as Ruben Rivero Campo, who is wanted for "an election offense" and Inigo Sancho Marco, who is not on a wanted list, the ministry said in a statement, adding the arrests took place Saturday afternoon.

The statement said officers had spotted Echeverria at Bercy railway station in Paris and tailed him covertly to Joigny, where an apparent rendezvous with the other men took place.

The men were armed and police found a car with false license plates in the station car park in Joigny.

The arrests occurred a day after Spain's Interior Minister, Jorge Fernandez, insisted that as long as ETA existed its members would be hunted down.

Spanish state broadcaster TVE said the three were being held at Auxerre police station awaiting transport to Paris.

ETA has killed 829 people since the late 1960s in bombings and shootings aiming to force the creation of a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France. It is classified as a terrorist organization by Spain, the United States and the European Union.

Waves of arrests in recent years have repeatedly weakened ETA's structure and diminished its ability to perform acts of terror or collect funds.

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