Basque rebellion seen to weaken

Dec. 11, 2003 at 8:00 AM

MADRID, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The decades-old Basque struggle for independence from Spain is losing strength, and could be coming to a close, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

A serious blow was dealt to the separatist group known as ETA Tuesday, when police in France arrested Gorka Palacio Alday, who Spanish authorities say is the group's military commander.

The most concrete evidence of the group's decline is the fall in the number of attacks and killings.

In 2000, when ETA announced the "reactivation of armed struggle" following a 14-month cease-fire, its operatives launched 44 bombings and assassinations, in which 23 people were killed, government figures show. In 2001, it carried out 43 attacks, killing 15. But in 2002, the number of attacks dropped to 20, with five deaths, and so far this year there have been 17 strikes attributed to ETA, in which three people were killed.

In addition, ETA's financial assets abroad have been squeezed by increased international cooperation in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the report said.

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