The Basque separatist group ETA said it has dismantled its organizational structure after a six-decade independence campaign that killed hundreds in Spain, taking the final step in disbanding after disarming past year and bringing an end to one of Europe's bloodiest nationalist conflicts in recent times.
"Basque separatist group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) has made a decision to end its political activities and completely dissolve all its structures", the El Diario online outlet reported Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Basques welcomed news of ETA's dissolution. He expected ETA to make a further filmed declaration of its disbandment on Thursday, before a peace conference in southwest France on May 4.
Speaking shortly before ETA's announcement Wednesday, the COVITE group that represents victims said it wanted more.
Founded in 1958 during Gen. Francisco Franco's regime, the group grabbed global headlines when it killed the dictator's anointed successor, Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco, in 1973.
The fight of the ETA group for the independence of the Southern Basque Country from Spain has left almost 850 people dead and thousands more injured.
"It's the end of the armed struggle, but it's about continuing the same fight through different means", says Josian, who works for a gas company, on the rainy streets of seaside resort San Sebastian, the city worst hit by ETA.
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Zoido assured that there would be no "impunity" and "before and after this communique, they will be pursued wherever they are in order to be arrested". It remained active long after Franco's death in 1975.
The group's bloodiest period came as Spain transitioned from dictatorship to democracy during the early 1980s.
In all, the group killed 853 people over four decades, according to a tally by the Spanish Interior Ministry. Some 2,600 people were also injured by its long-running armed campaign.
Some 300 ETA members are imprisoned in Spain, France and Portugal and up to 100 are still on the run, according to Forum Social, a group close to prisoners' families.
"Eta has chose to end its historic cycle and role, bringing to a close its journey", said the text, which was published by Spanish newspapers.
Critics charge that Basque pro-independence parties like Sortu, which include among its ranks people once part of or linked to ETA, are trying to impose their own version of events, while separatists argue that Basques have been repressed for decades, even centuries, by Spain and France.