French police have arrested four Spaniards suspected of belonging to the Basque separatist organisation ETA in a sting operation in the southwestern town of Auch, a police source said yesterday. The two men and two women were arrested at around 3.30pm as they prepared to leave a house that had been under police surveillance for some time. “The suspects' identities are being checked,” a source close to the inquiry said, adding that police had found arms during a search of the house. French police suspect ETA, which campaigns for independence for the ethnic Basques of northern Spain and southwest France, is increasingly active on French soil after a string of shootings that have left one policeman fighting for his life. Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish minister of the interior, said that the four detainees were part of the “logistic apparatus” and ran instruction courses for new members. Although unconfirmed one is believed to be related with the murder of councillor Gregorio Ordoñez and the other with a frustrated attempt to kill King Juan Carlos in Majorca in 1995. ETA has killed more than 800 people over more than three decades in its campaign.

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