French police have arrested two senior figures of the armed Basque separatist group ETA, including the group's military commander who escaped French custody in 2000, officials and media said on Friday.
Felix Alberto Lopez de Lacalle, alias "Mobutu" who is believed to be ETA's military mastermind, was arrested near the southern French town of Angouleme, French police sources said.
His girlfriend, also suspected of being an ETA member, was arrested with him, Spanish media said.
Earlier on Friday, French police arrested a man suspected of being an ETA leader wanted for a number of killings in the 1980s, in further evidence of the increased cooperation between France and Spain in recent years as part of a crackdown on ETA.
After completing a prison term in 2000, Lopez de Lacalle was due to be extradited to Spain. But while under guard at a hotel in Aubusson in November 2000, he escaped by tying blankets together, scaling down the side of the hotel and fleeing in a waiting getaway car.
Spain says Lopez de Lacalle then returned to ETA's guerrilla campaign for an independent state in northern Spain and southwestern France, in which nearly 850 people have been killed since 1968.
The Spanish government initially blamed ETA for the March 11 Madrid train bombings until evidence emerged pointing to Islamic militants.
"He is the top leader right now for ETA bombs and attacks. He is the maximum leader for the most serious activity of ETA, which is not a political organization but a terrorist organization," a Spanish Interior Ministry spokesman said.
Lopez de Lacalle ascended to leadership in ETA in 1992 and Spanish police link him to six ETA killings between 1978 and 1980, newspaper La Vanguardia said.
Another suspected ETA leader, wanted for a number of killings in the 1980s was arrested close to Dax in southwest France after long surveillance as part of a wider operation, Spain's interior minister said on Friday.
Felix Ignacio Esparza Luri, who was carrying a gun and forged identification papers at the time of his arrest, is wanted in Spain for seven murders and a kidnapping, officials said.
"We give a great deal of importance to this arrest as there are several judicial warrants for this terrorist and he was one of the members of this terrorist organization we most wanted to arrest," Interior Minister Angel Acebes said.
"He formed part of the leadership of the terrorist organization ETA, and was responsible for its logistics," the minister said.
Security sources said Esparza Luri was responsible within ETA for acquiring and using explosives and vehicles and organizing border crossings.
Japan’s Mount Aso erupted yesterday, spewing a giant column of ash thousands of meters into the sky as hikers rushed away from the popular tourist spot. No injuries were immediately reported after the late-morning eruption in southwest Japan, which sent rocks flying in a dramatic blast captured by nearby CCTV cameras. People were warned not to approach the volcano as it ejected hot gas and ash as high as 3,500m, and sent stones tumbling down its grassy slopes. Authorities were checking if any hikers had been trapped or injured, officials told local media, as TV footage showed dozens of vehicles and tour buses
South Korea yesterday said that it would lift COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings next week as the country prepares to switch to a “living with COVID-19” strategy amid rising vaccination levels. A new panel established this week is drawing up a plan for a gradual lifting of curbs, aiming to lift restrictions and reopen the economy next month on the expectation that 80 percent of the adult population will be fully vaccinated. From Monday, the South Korean government is to allow gatherings of up to four unvaccinated people and ease operating-hour restrictions imposed on venues such as restaurants, cafes and cinemas, South
‘AVOIDABLE SITUATION’: After being tortured in his home country, a Sri Lankan and his family are at risk of deportation from the UK, despite his academic fellowship A scientist conducting groundbreaking research into renewable energy is facing deportation with his family to Sri Lanka, where he was tortured, after receiving contradictory information about his case from the British Home Office. Nadarajah Muhunthan, 47, his wife, Sharmila, 42, and their three children, aged 13, nine and five, went to the UK in 2018 after Muhunthan, who is working on thin-film photovoltaic devices used to generate solar power, was given a prestigious Commonwealth Rutherford fellowship. The award allowed him to reside to the UK for two years to research and develop the technology. His wife obtained a job caring for
A top global law firm is no longer representing the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in seeking the removal of a Tiananmen memorial from its campus after it came under heavy criticism in the US for helping China purge dissent, the Washington Post reported. Mayer Brown is the latest international company to face pressure over how its actions in China contradict its more progressive statements in the West. The 8m high Pillar of Shame sculpture by Danish artist Jens Galschiot has stood on HKU’s campus since 1997, the year the city was handed back to China. It features 50 anguished faces and tortured