The armed Basque guerrilla movement ETA on Friday accepted responsibility for the deaths of at least 800 mostly Spanish citizens in the course of the group's paramilitary activities since 1959. As the group prepares to voluntarily liquidate itself, the leadership of ETA apologized for the effects of its actions and asked the forgiveness of their victims' families.
"We know that we caused a lot of pain during that long period of armed struggle, including damage that can never be put right. We wish to show our respect for those who were killed or wounded by ETA and those who were affected by the conflict. We are truly sorry," a televised statement released by the group's leadership read.
In the course of its armed activities, the group was listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union, United Kingdom, United States and Canada as well as the central government in Madrid.
ETA began as a group mainly promoting cultural expression for the Basque ethnic minority in far northern Spain which suffered severe repression under the right-wing military dictatorship of Francisco Franco. In 1959 the group turned its efforts to armed struggle in pursuit of independence for the Basque region, engaging in bombings and targeted assassinations against Spanish security forces and those they considered the enemies of their cause.