10 January 2007


In the statement the Basque daily Gara received, ETA claimed responsibility for the Madrid airport attack, but added that its March declaration of a permanent ceasefire still stood.

Basque armed group ETA insisted yesterday that a cease-fire it declared on March still stands, even as it claimed responsibility for a Dec. 30 armed attack in Madrid Airport.

ETA made its assertion in a statementsent to the pro-independence newspaper Gara. ETA said it did not mean to cause casualties in the attack, accusing the government of failing to evacuate the parking garage targeted at Madrid's airport despite three warning calls pointing out exactly where the car bomb was parked. The airport was largely evacuated, but both victims were sleeping in parked cars.

ETA blamed the Spanish Government and the governing Socialist Party for "placing obstacles endlessly in the democratic process," Gara said in a summary of what it called a long Basque-language statement.

Hours before ETA's statement, the government announced the arrest of two suspected ETA members in the North of the Basque Country linked to arms caches found in late December and last week in the Bizkaia. They were the first arrests since the Madrid car bombing.

Peace process, in danger.

ETA and other parties had been warning in recent months that continued arrests and trials of suspected ETA members were endangering the peace process, which was launched with its announcement March 22 of a "permanent" cease-fire. It had been demanding, and the government refusing, the transfer of ETA prisoners from jails around Spain to prisons in the Basque region. Spain's Government has responded to the bombing by scrapping plans for negotiations with ETA and declaring the once-promising peace process terminated.

Home Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said he had not immediately read ETA's statement, but his initial impression was that "ETA has only one path left to take, which is to end the violence."

Right to "respond".

In its statement, ETA reiterated a claim that the government had made,and was not keeping, commitments as part of the process that began with the truce. The group wants to promote the process, but reserves the right to "respond" if government aggression against the pro-independence movement continues, Gara reported. ETA insisted progress in the process must come from a "political agreement" that includes "the minimum democratic rights owed to the Basque Country,'' an allusion to Basques long-standing demands to be able to decide between their future.

Demand to halt fruitless "police formulas and policies."

It called on the government to halt "police formulas and failed policies that lead nowhere," said Gara.

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