Spanish police detain ETA fugitive at Madrid airport

Madrid (AFP) - Spanish police on Sunday arrested a member of the armed Basque separatist group ETA suspected of belonging to a unit that killed several police officers in the 1980s, the interior ministry said.

Police detained Maria Jesus Elorza Zubizarreta, 66, at Madrid's Adolfo-Suarez Barajas airport under a European arrest warrant issued by France in 2006, the ministry said in a statement.

Zubizarreta, also known by her alias "Karakate", was a member of ETA's Donosti unit "which was responsible for the murder of several police officers in the 1980s" in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, it added.

She fled to France in 1984 after police broke up the Donosti unit with the arrest of several of its members and eventually moved to Venezuela in 2006.

During her time in France she allegedly made explosives for the group and housed ETA members at a home she owned in San Sebastian, a seaside town in Spain's Basque region, according to the interior ministry.

A top French court in 2006 sentenced Zubizarreta to three years in jail for membership in a terrorist organisation and banned her for life from living in French territory.

ETA, which announced an end to violence in 2011, is blamed for the shooting and bombing deaths of 829 people in a four-decade campaign for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France.

It is classed as a terrorist group by both the United States and the European Union.

Earlier this year, the group said it would put its arsenal of weapons "out of operational use" in a historic first step towards disarmament.

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