The Basque terrorist organization, ETA, claimed Tuesday afternoon responsibility for the recent bombing at Madrid's Barajas airport that claimed the lives of two Ecuadoreans. At the same time, ETA in its statement published in the Basque language newspaper Gara, said that its so-called truce with the Spanish government remains in place, while at the same time warning that there could be further terrorist acts as a response to what it claims are "aggressions againt Euskal Herria," or the Basque Country.
Both the European Union and the United States recognize ETA as a terrorist organization. The ceasefire, which went into effect March 24, 2006, was hoped to mark the end of the decades-long war that the terrorist group has waged throughout Spain and southern France in hopes of creating its own homeland. ETA, which stands for Euskadi Ta Azkatasuna, Basque Homeland and Freedom, is responsible for the deaths of over 850 people, including 21 people who were killed in an underground Barcelona supermarket in 1987. Until this past attack, ETA had not caused any deaths since 2003, although it has continued in setting off smaller bombs and extortion.
Relatedly, earlier Tuesday two suspected ETA members were arrested in southern France and which appear to be tied to the discovery of arms and explosives both before and after the Madrid attack.
Spain's Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba initially responded to the ETA statement by saying that "We are still translating it into Spanish", adding that "all that has to be said, has already been said." When questioned further Rubalcaba criticised ETA and its bombing of the airport. "When somebody places a powerful bomb in an airport terminal, they have to be held responsible for their actions," he said, as well as labelling as "sarcasm" ETA's qualification of the government actions.
Rubalcaba said that "the goverment is responding" in fighting terrorism, adding that talks are ongoing with other political parties to renew a anti-terrorism pact.
With respect to whether the government will be tending an olive branch to ETA and its supposed desire to reach peace, Rubalcaba said "ETA has broken the peace process, ETA has broken its truce ... With violence there is no dialogue, placing a bome is extreme violence."
There is a widespread view that there are rifts within the Basque terrorist organization, with older members more willing to seek peace. It has been reported in Spanish press that the Madrid bombing was the act of younger, more violent members who acted without the organization's unanimous support.
In recent years membership in the terrorist organization had begun to decrease as tougher surveillance measures, some say sponsored by the US following the 9-11 attacks in New York, led to the capture of thinning upper management. ETA also saw a sharp drop in support after the March 11 train bomb attacks in Madrid.
As reported in March, ETA - one of Europe's last terrorist groups - announced it was laying down its arms following weeks of speculation that a ceasefire could be in the making. At that time, the Basque terrorist organization ETA said that it was calling for a "permanent ceasefire."
Politicians responded with restraint to the news in light