French police have arrested the chief of the Basque separatist group, ETA, in northwest France near the Belgian border, according to reports on Spain’s national radio.
Alejandro Zobaran Arriola, the group’s new military chief,” was among four ETA suspects detained.
El Pais, the Spanish newspaper, said the arrests occurred in Willencourt, west of the city of Arras.
Agence France Presse reported that weapons and documents were found and seized in the house where the ETA suspects were captured.
Arriola, also known as Xarla,” is the sixth military chief of the ETA to be arrested since Francisco Javier Lopez Pena was detained in May 2008.
While the ETA called off armed violence last year, its four-decade campaign to establish an independent Basque state has resulted in the deaths of more than 800 people in France and Spain.
The group has come under pressure from government authorities to finally relinquish its arms.
Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has demanded that ETA be disbanded completely.
Spanish officials think their offensive against ETA, which has included dozens of arrests, has damaged its operational capacity.
ETA has not perpetrated an attack on Spanish soil since August 2009.