Spain’s Interior Minister said the cell was ready to act
In a coordinated police operation which began at 3 am this morning in various places between Pamplona and Valencia the Spanish national police have arrested four people in connection with being members of an ETA cell based in Navarra.
According to a statement made in a press conference this morning by the Home Office Minister, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the operation is still ‘underway’. He said that police had uncovered weapons, explosives and information. He also thanked the police for their preventative work and said that the ETA cell had been disbanded before it could carry out any operations and that thanks to the detention of the four suspected members ‘a lot of pain had been avoided’.
According to sources close to the investigation three of the people arrested had no previous police records but the fourth person, Aurken Sola Campillo, had been found guilty by the High Court in 2005 and given a prison sentence for one year and three months for collaborating with ETA.
It is believed that the police uncovered two revolvers, 100 kilos of explosives and detonating cord during the operation this morning. Some of the explosives were the same as those used to fabricate the explosives used in the most recent ETA bombings against the law courts in Tolosa (Guipuzcoa) and in the car bomb placed under a police car in Bilbao which was successfully defused.
Apart from Aurken Sola Campillo who has a previous record of activities linked to ETA the other three people arrested were, Araitz Amatriain, arrested in Valencia, Xabier Rey, arrested in Pamplona and Sergio Boado, arrested in Añorbe. However, despite the arrest in Valencia Rubalcaba stressed that there was no evidence to suggest that ETA had set up a terrorist cell in this part of Spain.
Aurken Sola Campillo had previously been a member of the Urbasa ETA cell which was disbanded at the end of 2002. This cell was given the task of obtaining information on different people believed to be ETA targets among them, the mayoress of Pamplona, the president of the parliament of Navarra, members and ex councillors for UPN, the daily newspaper of Navarra as well as various journalists and people working for the police.
The arrests this morning come just days after the latest incidents of unrest known as ‘kale borroka’ (street battle) when two local train stations were attacked in Berriz and Amorbieta to coincide with the anniversary of the signing of the statute of Gernika and also the date planned by Ibarretxe, the lehendakari (leader of the Basque government) for a referendum on Basque independence which was banned from taking place by the constitutional court.
It is believed that the detention of Aurken Sola Campillo confirms the thesis that ETA is having serious difficulties recruiting activists with no previous connections to the terrorist organization.