Three Suspected ETA Members Arrested in France

Three suspected members of the Basque separatist group ETA were taken into custody this weekend in southern France, a French police official said Sunday.

Two of the suspects, carrying handguns and fake French and Spanish identification documents, were stopped by police Sunday as they headed to an underground cache of ETA materials buried in the countryside near the southern city of Montpellier, the police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of department policy.

Spain's Cadena Ser radio initially reported that the cache contained materials that could be used in car bombs. It later backed away from that claim, saying the cache contained items for making fake license plates.

Another suspected member of ETA was arrested Saturday near Pau, close to the Spanish border, when he sought medical treatment for a hand wound, the police official said.

The 29-year-old suspect was taken into custody and hospitalized. Cadena Ser reported that he was suffering from a bullet wound to the hand.

ETA has killed more than 825 people since 1968, when it started a violent campaign for an independent Basque state in parts of northeastern Spain and southwestern France.

French and Spanish authorities are cooperating in an effort to root out suspected members of ETA who have taken refuge in the peaceful Basque region of southwest France before fanning out to other parts of the country.