French police arrest two senior ETA suspects

 

The two top leaders of Spanish separatist group ETA have been arrested in southwestern France, according to Spanish police.

Mr Juan Antonio Olarra and Ms Ainhoa Mugica were arrested near Bordeaux last night in what Spanish interior minister Mr Angel Acebes said was a major blow against the armed Basque group.

Mr Acebes said the "leadership of the terrorist organisation ETA and its two top leaders" had been arrested.

Mr Olarra had 20 arrest warrants outstanding against him, 11 of them international warrants, Mr Acebes told a news conference. Ms Mugica was wanted on nine national and three international arrest warrants, he said.

Mr Olarra (35) and Ms Mugica (32) both from San Sebastian in Spain's northern Basque country, are a couple, according to French police.

Mr Acebes said a French woman, Ms Saroya Galarraga, was also arrested last night's operation. He said Ms Galarraga was in charge of providing cover for ETA members in France and rented apartments for them.

The centre-right government of Prime Minister Mr Jose Maria Aznar has taken a hard line against ETA, which has killed 836 people and injured more than 2,300 since 1968 in a bloody campaign for an independent Basque homeland in north Spain and southwest France.