Basque separatist group ETA hands over weapon caches

Basque separatist group ETA handed over its remaining inventory of weapons and their locations to French authorities.

French police open a weapons cache belonging to Basque separatist group ETA, which began the process of handing its weapons and their locations over to French authorities.Photo by Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA
French police open a weapons cache belonging to Basque separatist group ETA, which began the process of handing its weapons and their locations over to French authorities.Photo by Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA

Documents obtained by the Guardian state the European militant group gave up 118 pistols, rifles and automatic weapons, 25,700 rounds of ammunition and three tons of explosive materials.

The weapons were distributed between eight sights, where police were deployed to secure the firearms ammunition and explosives.
ETA presented French authorities with the details of the weapons locations at a small ceremony in the city of Bayonne, which French Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said was a “major step.”

“It was a very tense moment,” French Basque environmentalist Txetx Etcheverry, who handed over the file, said. “But it is a historic day.”

ETA killed more than 800 people in 40 years, as the group sought to establish an independent country between Spain and France.

Ram Manikkalingam, chairman of the International Verification Commission, said he hoped the weapon handover would help bring peace to the Basque region.

ETA had previously declared a permanent and “internationally verifiable” ceasefire in 2011, but refused to disarm.

Despite the weapons dump, the group has not announced any plans to dissolve.

By Daniel Uria