Basque separatist group ETA announces full dissolution

ETA disbands after decades-long armed struggle

ETA disbands after decades-long armed struggle

But Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido retorted Wednesday that "they will not obtain a thing for making a declaration they call a dissolution".

The Spanish government said it would continue to pursue members of ETA, despite its self-declared dissolution.

ETA, which was formed in 1959, waged more than four decades of attacks, killings and kidnappings in its fight for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwest France. COVITO head Consuelo Ordonez, whose brother was killed by ETA in 1995, said "the only decent sentence that the terrorists could have uttered starts and ends with, 'We should never have existed'".

Global mediators are organizing a peace conference in southwest France on May 4.

It added: "The Basque Country is now before a new opportunity to finally close the conflict and build a collective future". In its letter, ETA acknowledged its responsibility in failing to resolve the conflict.

The association said in a statement that ETA hasn't helped solve crimes it committed that are still under investigation, hasn't offered a blanket apology to victims beyond relaying its regret for those caught up in the Basque conflict, and hasn't recognized the damage it caused. The group, originally gathering youths close to the Basque Nationalist Party, dubbed its self ETA for Euskadi ta Askatasuna or "Basque Homeland and Freedom" in the region's language.

ETA, which stands for "Basque Homeland and Freedom" in the Basque language and was born in 1958, carried out bombings, shootings and kidnappings, majority after Spain transitioned to democracy from the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco after his death in 1975.

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Violence escalated in the 1960s and Franco's regime responded in kind as the group assassinated politicians, including prime minister Luis Carrero Blanco, and officials as well as bombing public places.

Despite Franco's death in 1975, the group continued its armed campaign for Basque self-determination and the eventual independence of the region that includes territories in Spain and France.

In what became known as Spain's "dirty war" on terror, at least 28 separatists were killed by death squads set up by members of Spain's security forces to perform extrajudicial killings of ETA militants.

Most violent during the 1980s and 1990s, ETA has been weakened in recent years by multiple arrests targeting senior leaders.

Eta killed more than 800 people during its decades-long campaign of violence.

"No matter what ETA does, there is no room for impunity for its crimes. That would only be a source of new problems", said the letter, which was sent to a number of Basque organisations.

A Basque regional government representative told AFP that following the letter, ETA was expected make a further direct declaration of its disbandment tomorrow, probably in a video. A peace conference in France is scheduled for Friday.

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