French police have arrested the military leader of Basque separatist group ETA, Oroitz Gurruchaga Gogorza, in the French town of Cauna, the Spanish Interior Ministry said on Monday.
Along with Oroitz Gurruchaga Gogorza five other ETA members were arrested. Oroitz Gurruchaga was responsible for hiring new members.
Gurruchaga was born in 1981, he joined ETA in 2000, and rapidly rose to a leadership role with ETA. According to the Spanish secret service, he was the organizer of a number of terrorist attacks using improvised explosive devices in Basque country including at railway stations, and on public transport.
Spanish authorities believe Gurruchaga organized terrorist attacks in Burgos and Mallorca in July 2009. As a result of the first attack 64 people were wounded, with two police officers killed at the explosion on Mallorca.
The terrorist group ETA has operated in Spain and neighboring France for over 40 years. On October 20 last year the group publicly renounced fighting, calling on the Government of Spain and France to begin direct dialogue on resolving the conflict.
The official date of establishment of ETA (ETA - Euzkadi Ta Azkatasuna in the Basque language Homeland and Freedom) is 31 July 1959, when a group of young men separated from the Basque Nationalist Party and decided to fight for the independence of the Basque Country, northern Spain and southwestern France. The organization was founded as a movement of resistance to the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, who pushed strict repressive policies on the Basque minority in Spain.