International mediators say the armed Basque separatist group ETA has placed a small quantity of guns and explosives out of use in what is seen as a first step toward an unconditional total disarmament.

Ram Manikkalingam, spokesman for the commission of mediators overseeing the Basque group's 2011 ceasefire told reporters Friday in the northern city of Bilbao that ETA had sealed the small arsenal and placed it "out of operational use."

Manikkalingam said it was "a necessary step prior to a complete disarmament."

ETA is blamed for killing some 830 people between the late 1960s and its cease-fire in 2011 in a campaign for a Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France.

The Spanish government, which does not recognize the commission, insists that the group must disarm and disband.