PARIS / MADRID – French police have secured some 3.5 tons of weapons, explosives and other dangerous materials after members of the Basque separatist group ETA directed authorities to weapons caches in southern France, officials said Saturday.
The police action proceeded without incident, Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. He called the process a “decisive chapter” in ending ETA’s activities.
During a handover ceremony in Bayonne, Basque representative Jean-Noel Etcheverry shared information about the location of ETA’s weapons, ammunition and explosives, which was then conveyed to the relevant authorities to secure the arsenal, according to the International Verification Commission (IVC).
The daily El Pais reported, citing investigators, that the list documented a total of eight weapons caches, containing around 120 fire arms, 3 tonnes of explosives and a large quantity of ammunition.
“The commission believes that this step constitutes the disarmament of ETA,” the IVC said in a statement.
ETA separatists took part a bloody campaign to carve out an independent Basque state from parts of northern Spain and southern France from 1968 to 2010.
During that time, the group carried out around 4,000 terrorist attacks that left more than 830 people dead.
The IVC was established in 2011 to verify the ETA’s declaration that year that it would end its armed struggle. ETA has not committed any attacks since. -DPA