French police arrest suspected new ETA head
French police have arrested the suspected new head of the military wing of the Basque terrorist organization ETA only three weeks after capturing his predecessor, the French and Spanish interior ministries announced on Monday, according to dpa.
Aitzol Irionda Yarza, also known as Gurbita or Asier, and two alleged accomplices were taken into custody in the Pyrenean town of Bagneres-de-Bigorre, some 50 kilometres from Cautarets, where French police arrested ETA chief Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu, alias Txeroki, on November 17.
Spanish intelligence services suspect that the 31-year-old Irionda Yarza and the other two suspects had formed the new ETA leadership after Aspiazu's arrest.
All three suspects were armed at the time of their arrest, Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said.
Irionda Yarza and his predecessor are both suspected of having been involved in the shooting deaths of two Spanish police officers in Capbreton, in south-western France, on December 1, 2007.
Spanish ETA militants have long used France as a base for their activities in Spain. More than 30 ETA members have been arrested on French territory this year.
More than 800 people have been killed in ETA attacks since 1968, when the group began its violent campaign to secure Basque independence. Both the EU and the United States have classified the group as a terrorist organization.