Basque Group ETA’s Decades of Violence and Gradual Demise

Social Forum to promote the Peace Process gives a news conference about ETA dissolution in Bayonne
Agus Hernan (Foro Social), Alain Iriart, mayor of St. Pierre d'Irube, Anais Funosas (Bake Bidea), Jean Rene Etchegaray, mayor of Bayonne, Francois Xavier Nenon and Raymond Kendall (International Contact Group), give a news conference, to offer information concerning the dissolution of armed Basque separatists ETA, due for May 4 in the French town of Cambo-Les-Bains, in Bayonne, France, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent West


Basque separatist group ETA is due to announce its final dissolution this week, ending Western Europe’s last major armed insurgency, a 50-year campaign which killed more than 850 people in Spain

Here is a timeline of major events since the founding of ETA, whose initials stand for Euskadi ta Askatasuna (Basque Country and Freedom), and its gradual weakening.

1959 – Students in Madrid form ETA during dictatorship of Francisco Franco, who suppressed Basque culture, to fight for an independent state in northern Spain and southern France.

1968 – ETA carries out first known killing, shooting Meliton Manzanas, secret police chief in Basque city of San Sebastian.

1973 – Franco’s prime minister and heir apparent Luis Carrero Blanco is killed when his car drives over explosives planted by ETA in Madrid.



1974 – Explosion at Rolando cafe in Madrid kills 12.

1975 – Spain becomes democracy but ETA continues its violent campaign, altering perceptions of movement as force for resistance against fascism.

1978 – ETA founds political wing Herri Batasuna.

1980 – In its bloodiest year, ETA kills about 100 people.

1983 – Government officials set up illegal death squads known as Anti-Terrorist Liberation Groups (GAL).

1985 – ETA car bomb explodes in Madrid. A U.S. tourist is killed and 16 Civil Guards wounded.


1986 – Twelve Civil Guards are killed and 50 wounded in Madrid in July. Juan Manuel Soares is later sentenced to 1,401 years in jail for killings

1987 – Twenty-one shoppers are killed by bomb at Barcelona supermarket in June. ETA apologises. Car bomb outside barracks in Zaragoza kills 11.

1991 – Ten people killed by car bomb outside Civil Guard barracks in Barcelona.

1995 – ETA members attempt to kill Jose Maria Aznar, leader of right-wing Popular Party, with car bomb. He survives and becomes prime minister in March 1996.

1995 – Attempt to asssassinate King Juan Carlos in Mallorca.

1997 – Police foil plot to assassinate King Juan Carlos at Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. One officer dies in shootout, ETA member Eneko Gogeaskoetxea escapes.

1997 – ETA kidnaps and kills Basque Popular Party member and Ermua town councillor Miguel Angel Blanco. Outrage spreads through Spain and 6 million take to streets.

1998 – ETA announces truce which ends in Dec. 1999.



1998 – Former Interior Minister Jose Barrionuevo, his deputy Rafael Vera and a former civil governor, Julian Sancristobal, are jailed for their role in GAL actions. The three were granted a partial pardon and released later that year.

1999 – ETA meets Spanish government in Switzerland. In November, it announces ceasefire for Dec. 3.


2000 – Car bombs in Madrid mark return to violent campaign

2003 – Supreme Court outlaws Batasuna party, which denies links to ETA but refuses to condemn attacks.

2003 – Two bombs in resort towns of Alicante and Benidorm injure more than 10 people. Santander airport is also bombed.

2004 – Suspected leader Mikel Albisu Iriarte, alias “Mikel Antza” is arrested in France. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero appeals to ETA to give up fight.

2005 – Parliament lower house approves resolution authorising government to negotiate disarmament.

2006 – ETA declares permanent ceasefire in March. Zapatero tells parliament he will seek peace talks. In December, car bomb explodes at Madrid airport killing two Ecuadorians. Zapatero breaks off peace process.


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