A joint operation by Spanish and French police to capture the military leader of Spain's separatist militant group ETA succeeded at the weekend, reports quoting the Spanish Interior Ministry said.
Oroitz Gurruchaga Gogorza and Xabier Aramburu, suspected to be his deputy, were detained in the south-western French village of Cauna on Sunday.
The two, armed with handguns, were taken into custody while traveling in a stolen vehicle fitted with duplicate registration number-plates.
Spanish police suspect the militants were in southern France to recruit new ETA cadres.
Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), fighting for autonomy in the country's Basque region since 1968, had announced a permanent ceasefire in January last year, but the Spanish government rejected the offer, saying it contained nothing new.
The government has ruled out any peace talks with the dreaded terrorists after they killed two Ecuadorians at a Madrid airport bombing in December 2006 while a ceasefire was in force.
The Basque country is an autonomous community in northern Spain, which was granted the status of historical region within the country in 1978.
The European Union and the United States have blacklisted ETA as a terrorist organization, which had killed more than 800 people during four decades of violent campaign for a sovereign Basque state.
ETA has primarily used bombings and assassinations, targeting Spanish government officials, security and military forces, politicians, businessmen, judicial figures, journalists, and tourists.
Since 2008, Spanish and French authorities have apprehended more than 400 ETA members, including its top leaders, thus significantly reducing the group's activities.
by RTT Staff Writer
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