LONDON, June 29 (UPI) -- Police in London Friday arrested two members of the Basque separatist group ETA, including one who had been convicted of 22 murders, authorities said.
Authorities said the arrests of two of Spain's most-wanted ETA terrorists came during a 4 a.m. raid of a west London home, where the men had been living with fake identities, The Daily Telegraph reported.
One of the men, Antonio Troitino, 55, who has the Basque nickname "Antxon," was convicted of 22 murders as a member of the Aizkora commando unit that was behind bomb attacks in the 1980s, including a Madrid car bombing that killed 12 police officers.
Troitino was arrested in 1987 and sentenced to more than 2,000 years in prison. But Spanish penal law at the time limited the maximum jail term to 30 years, and Troitino was released in April 2011 after serving 24 years based in part on good behavior.
His release sparked outrage, and the National Court revoked his release within days and ordered his rearrest but he had gone into hiding.
Authorities said the other suspect, Ignacio Lerin Sanchez, 38, also known as "Belea," of Pamplona had been a fugitive since 2007. The Telegraph said he is considered one of ETA's most dangerous terrorists.
Both suspects were arrested on European arrest warrants as part of a joint operation of Spanish and British police forces.
"These arrests have dealt a powerful blow to ETA. Troitino was a key figure in the terrorist organization and had direct links to the current leadership," Spain's Interior ministry said.
Five ETA members have been arrested this week and 16 have been arrested since the beginning of the year.
The ETA is blamed for more than 820 deaths and is considered a terrorist organization by Spanish, French, British and U.S. authorities as well as the European Union.
The group, which has campaigned five decades for an independent Basque homeland in parts of southwestern France and northeastern Spain, declared "a definitive end to its armed struggle" in October. ETA has been calling for negotiations with Spanish and French authorities.