In a video statement, Eta, the Basque separatist armed group, has declared a ceasefire.
Issued on Sunday on the Basque newspaper Gara‘s website, the video showed three masked men making a statement in Basque. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
Gara accompanied the video with a transcription of the statement in Basque and Spanish.
“Eta makes it known that as of some months ago it took the decision to no longer employ offensive armed actions,” the statement said, suggesting it is ready to pursue a “democratic process,” in trying to achieve its goals.
Eta is seeking an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France.
The European Union and the US consider it a terrorist organization.
It has killed more than 825 people since the late 1960s.
“The political parties and the general public in Spain are treating this with scepticism. It is the 11th truth declared by Eta since 1981,” Bill Bond, a journalist who has worked in Spain for many years, told Al Jazeera.
“The ceasefires were broken by eta because they said the government doesn’t promise them enough.
“From the government point of view, when they have sat down and talked to Eta, the group just reiterated their demands for a independent Basque homeland,” he said.
In March 2006, the group last announced what it called a “permanent ceasefire”, but on December 30 of the same year, two people were killed at Madrid’s Barajas airport by a powerful car bomb set off by the organization.
More than 450 suspected members of Eta or supporters of the group have been arrested since the end of the last ceasefire.
Among those arrests were several of the group’s key leaders in Spain, France and Portugal, where a bomb-making factory was discovered by the police. All that has weakened the group.
It was not clear whether the new truce offer is permanent or whether Eta is signaling it is ready for peace talks with the government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister.
Spanish authorities made no immediate response.