World

Basque Terrorist Group ETA Declares a 'Permanent Cease-Fire'

Basque pro-independence supporters hold up flags with the silhouette of the Basque Country calling for the return for all of more than eight hundred prisoners of the Basque armed group ETA who are dispersed in several Spanish prisons, during a rally in  Bilbao northern Spain, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. The Basque separatist militant group ETA declared a cease-fire in a video statement issued  on last Sept.  5, 2010,  suggesting it might turn to a political process in its quest for an independent homeland. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

Basque pro-independence supporters hold up flags with the silhouette of the Basque Country calling for the return for all of more than eight hundred prisoners of the Basque armed group ETA who are dispersed in several Spanish prisons, during a rally in Bilbao northern Spain, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. The Basque separatist militant group ETA declared a cease-fire in a video statement issued on last Sept. 5, 2010, suggesting it might turn to a political process in its quest for an independent homeland. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

The Basque terrorist group ETA announced on Monday that a cease-fire declared in September would become permanent. ETA called the declaration a step toward ending its decades-old fight for an independent state in northern Spain and southwest France.

ETA's statement in the pro-independence newspaper Gara, which often serves as an ETA mouthpiece, made no mention of ETA dissolving or giving up its weapons as demanded by the Spanish government.

There was no immediate comment from the Spanish government.

ETA declared a cease-fire in September but gave no details about how long it would last.

The new statement specifies it is a "permanent and general cease-fire which will be verifiable by the international community."

It added: "This is ETA's firm commitment toward a process to achieve a lasting resolution and toward an end to the armed confrontation."

ETA declared what it called a permanent cease-fire in 2006, but that truce ended up lasting just nine months as talks with the government went nowhere. ETA resorted to violence in December 2006 with a huge car bombing that killed two people at Madrid's Barajas airport.

ETA's last deadly attack in Spain was a July 2009 car bomb that killed two policemen on the island of Mallorca.

The group is considered a terrorist organization by Spain, the European Union and the United States, and it has killed more than 825 people since the late 1960s.

In Spain, speculation has been rife for weeks that ETA would issue a new statement, but the government has urged caution, saying the group has raised hopes before only to dash them.

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said the only statement he wanted to see from ETA was one simply announcing its dissolution.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.