MADRID, Spain – French police found a cache of explosives allegedly belonging to the outlawed Basque separatist group ETA (search) near the border with Spain, the Spanish interior minister said Saturday.
French police made the discovery after the capture of two important ETA members Friday in southwestern France. A lower-ranking ETA member was also arrested.
Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes (search) told reporters at a Madrid news conference that police discovered two backpacks with explosives and two booby-trap bombs in an apartment in the southern French city of Bagneres de Bigorre.
Police also seized two pistols, vehicles with false license plates, computers, and important ETA-related internal documents in searches of apartments rented to two of those who were arrested.
The government had initially said ETA was the prime suspect in March 11 rail bombings (search) in Madrid, which killed 191 people. Authorities now believe Islamic militants carried out the attacks, and police have 15 people in custody.
ETA is classified as a terrorist group by Spain, the U.S and the European Union. Attacks by the group killed three people last year, compared with 23 in 2000 and 15 in 2001.
ETA, which stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom (search), has been fighting since the late 1960s to carve an independent Basque homeland out of a region straddling northern Spain and southwest France. It has claimed responsibility for more than 800 killings during that period.