After a period of ‘internal reflection’ the Basque terrorist group ETA announced on Sunday that it is violence as usual – no surprise there then. It reaffirmed its use of violence to achieve its separatist aims but said it also remained open to a political solution.
In a statement released in the pro-independence Basque newspaper Gara, a usual mouthpiece for ETA, it declared: “We reaffirm our commitment to continue with arms in our hands while our enemies opt for repression and denial.”
It continued: “But at the same time we say that ETA’s desire has always been to find a political solution to the political conflict...desire and total readiness to take that path.”
In July ETA marked its 50th anniversary with a series of terror attacks in Spain. It has been blamed for the deaths of 828 people in its campaign for an independent Basque homeland in parts of northern Spain and south western France – a campaign that is rejected by the vast majority of people living in the region.
The news that it is violence as usual will surprise no one. In 2007 ETA called off a 15-month-old truce following a deadlock in tentative peace talks with the Spanish government. Since then Spain’s Socialist government has taken a hard line, repeatedly ruling out new negotiations. There have also been a series of successful operations by Spanish and French police that have weakened ETA by seizing key personnel and arms supplies.
The ETA statement came as security authorities in Northern Ireland warned of the serious threat posed by dissident republican groups there. This followed an upsurge in attacks in the province for which the Real IRA claimed the credit.
It is a chilling reminder that at a time when our political leaders point to Afghanistan as being the cradle of terrorism the most real threat to our safety is on our own doorstep and comes from our fellow countrymen.