An unidentified man walks past graffiti showing the symbol of the Basque separatist group ETA, a snake wrapped around an axe, Feb. 11, 2004. (AP Photo/Aranberri)|
CBC News Online | Updated Jan. 9, 2007
ETA is an separatist group in Spain, seeking an independent Marxist state in the Basque region. The group has claimed responsibility - or been blamed - for attacks that have killed more than 800 people since the late 1960s.
ETA is the acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom in the Basque language (Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna).
The Basques inhabit four provinces in Spain and three in France. Most Basques condemn the bombings and other crimes carried out by ETA.
In March 2003, Spain's Supreme Court outlawed the Batasuna party, a Basque nationalist party accused of links with ETA.
The text of ETA's March 22 statement announcing a permanent cease-fire, as translated by Reuters:
ETA has decided to declare a permanent cease-fire from March 24, 2006.
The object of this decision is to drive the democratic process in the Basque country in order to construct a new framework in which our rights as a people will be recognized and to ensure the future development of all political options. At the end of the process, Basque citizens should have their say and decide on their future. The Spanish and French states must recognize the result of this democratic process, with no type of limitation. The decision that we take as Basque citizens should be respected.
We call on all those involved to act responsibly, consistent with the step being taken by ETA. ETA calls on the authorities in Spain and France to respond in a positive manner and set aside repression. Finally, we call on Basque citizens to become involved in this process and fight for the rights we deserve as a people.
ETA has shown its desire and will that the process now begun should reach a conclusion and thus achieve true democracy in the Basque country, overcoming long years of violence and constructing a peace based on justice. We reaffirm our commitment to continue to take steps towards this end.
Here and now, it is possible to overcome the conflict. That is the desire and will of ETA.
1959: ETA is founded.
1961: ETA unsuccessfully attempts to derail a train carrying politicians. It is the group's first attack.
1968: Meliton Manzanas, a secret police chief in the Basque city of San Sebastian, is shot to death outside his house. Six ETA members would be sentenced to death for the killing.
December 1973: A car carrying Prime Minister Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco explodes in Madrid, killing him. The attack is thought to be in retaliation for the government's execution of Basque separatists.
June 1987: An attack on a Barcelona supermarket kills 21 people and injures 45. ETA would later apologize for the "mistake."
1995: ETA members attempt to assassinate Jose Maria Aznar, leader of Spain's right-wing opposition, with a car bomb. Aznar would go on to become prime minister.
July 1997: ETA abducts and kills Basque councillor Miguel Angel Blanco, prompting six million Spaniards to join mass demonstrations against ETA.
September 1998: ETA announces an indefinite ceasefire.
May 1999: The Spanish government meets with ETA in Zurich, Switzerland.
November 1999: ETA announces the end of its ceasefire, blaming the Spanish government for the lack of progress in the talks.
November 2000: A former government minister is killed in Barcelona. Spanish King Juan Carlos condemns ETA in a speech commemorating his 25th anniversary on the throne.
Jan. 11, 2001: Police claim to have averted a bomb attack by attesting two suspected members of ETA in a car loaded with explosives.
CBC News: ETA suspects arrested, bomb attack averted
March 2001: A politician with the Socialist party is shot dead in the city of San Sebastian. ETA is blamed.
May 6, 2001: A regional leader of Spain's Popular Party is shot dead in Zaragoza. A government spokesman says the attack looks like the work of ETA.
CBC News: Spanish politician gunned down in street
May 12, 2001:A car bomb explodes on the streets of Madrid, injuring 14 people. An anonymous caller claiming to be a member of ETA called authorities eight minutes before the explosion, claiming responsibility.
CBC News: Bomb explodes in Madrid
June 14, 2001: Spanish police arrest seven suspected members of ETA and confiscate 40 kilograms of explosives with detonators.
CBC News: ETA suspects arrested in Spain
Aug. 18, 2001: Police evacuate two seaside hotels in Salou, Spain, after a warning call from ETA. A car bomb later explodes near one of the hotels.
CBC News: Spanish resorts evacuated as Basque car bomb explodes
Aug. 27, 2001: A car bomb explodes in a parking garage at Madrid's international airport. There are no serious injuries, but 100 vehicles are damaged and much of the garage's third floor collapses. A man claiming to be a member of ETA phoned authorities before the blast giving details of its location.
CBC News: Bomb explodes at Madrid airport
Early November 2001: A car bomb explodes in Madrid, injuring nearly 100 people. Less than 24 hours later, Judge Jose Maria Lidon is shot dead in Bilbao. Lidon had sentenced six ETA sympathisers to jail in 1987.
Nov. 20, 2001: A bomb explodes in a park in the northern Spanish city of Bilbao, wounding two police officers. Authorities blame ETA.
CBC News: ETA blamed for bomb attack in Spain
June 21, 2002: Two car bombs explode in resort towns in southern Spain, injuring six people. Police suspect it is the work of ETA.
CBC News: Car bombs injure six in Spain
September 2002: A joint operation between French and Spanish police leads to the arrest of a man and a woman suspected of being top ETA leaders.
December 2001: The European Union declares ETA a terrorist group.
Dec. 20, 2002: French police arrest 10 suspected members of ETA, and seize arms and explosives.
CBC News: French police arrest 10 suspected ETA members
March 17, 2003: Spain's Supreme Court outlaws the Batasuna party, a Basque nationalist party accused of links with ETA. Batasuna has denied links, but refuses to condemn attacks claimed by or blamed on ETA.
CBC News: Spanish Supreme Court outlaws Basque political party
May 2003: The U.S. declares Batasuna a terrorist group.
June 2003: The EU declares Batasuna a terrorist group.
July 2003: Two bombs explode within minutes of each other in the Spanish resort towns of Alicante and Benidorm, injuring at least 13 people. Another bomb attack occurs at Santander airport five days later.
Dec. 9, 2003: French police arrest four high-ranking members of ETA near Pau, in southwest France.
CBC News: French police arrest 4 top members of ETA
March 11, 2004: Spanish authorities suspect ETA is behind the bombs which explode at a Madrid train station, killing nearly 200 people and injuring more than 1,400. A group linked to al-Qaeda claims responsibility and ETA denies involvement.
CBC News: Alleged al-Qaeda letter claims responsibility for Madrid bombings
Dec. 3, 2004: Five bombs, reportedly of "low potency," explode at Madrid gas stations on the Friday before a long holiday weekend. There are no injuries and only minor damage. A Basque newspaper reported earlier that day that it received a call from an ETA spokesman warning of the bombs.
CBC News: Series of bombs rip through Madrid
Dec. 6, 2004: Six small explosions occur around Spain on the holiday commemorating the adoption of the Spanish constitution. An ETA spokesperson called a Basque newspaper to warn of seven bombs, although only six explosions were reported. Two people were injured in the explosion in Santillana del Mar.
CBC News: 6 small bombs explode around Spain
March 22, 2006: In a video statement sent to Basque television and newspaper offices, ETA announces a "permanent ceasefire" as of March 24, 2006. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero responds cautiously, saying "any peace process after so many years of horror and terror will be long and difficult."
CBC News: Spain cautiously welcomes ETA's ceasefire offer
June 29, 2006: Spanish Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero announces his government will start peace talks with ETA within three months.
CBC News: Spain formally announces peace talks with Basque rebels
Dec. 30, 2006: ETA violates their self-imposed ceasefire, detonating a bomb in a parking lot at Madrid's Barajas International Airport. Two Ecuadorian immigrants are killed in the blast while sleeping in their cars. It is ETA's first fatal attack since May 2003.
Madrid airport blast breaks ETA ceasefire
Jan. 9, 2007: ETA releases a statement claiming responsibility for the December 2006 bombing, but says the ceasefire still holds. The group claims they did not intend to cause casualties and fault security personnel for failing to properly evacuate the parking lot after three phone calls to the airport warning of the planned bombing.
The group also criticizes the Spanish government for "placing obstacles endlessly in the democratic process."
In response, Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said the peace process cannot resume and that talks with ETA are "finished."