Terror group Eta apologises to victims ahead of dissolution

Terror group Eta apologises to victims ahead of dissolution

The group said it recognizes "direct responsibility it has acquired" in the "excessive suffering" their actions have caused.

The Basque militant group ETA on Friday apologized for the harm caused to victims and their relatives during its half-century-long violent campaign to create an independent state in northern Spain and southwest France.

The group, whose full name is Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna, which means Basque fatherland and freedom in the Basque language, began handing over its weapons and explosives in April of 2017 and plans to disband officially on the first weekend of May.

The statement also recognised that Eta's "mistakes or mistaken decisions" had led to the deaths of people who had nothing to do with the conflict, both in the Basque country and beyond. "We truly apologize", the statement noted. It is also to vow never to return to violence.

"ETA should have sincerely and unconditionally asked for forgiveness for the damage caused a long time ago", the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in a brief note. "That is what Eta wants to say".

The group also said it was committed to moving forwards with the process of reconciliation in the Basque country.

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"It is a necessary step to accepting the truth in constructive way, closing wounds and building the guarantees to ensure this suffering doesn't happen again", said the statement.

Spain's government said Eta was defeated politically and operationally and did not achieve any of its goals.

"The victims, their memory and their dignity have been decisive in defeating ETA".

ETA waged a almost four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings to establish an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southern France.

ETA, which killed around 850 people including police, politicians and entrepreneurs over four decades, is due to announce its final dissolution early next month. It also targeted state security forces and in 1973 assassinated the Spanish prime minister Luis Carrero Blanco with a bomb so powerful his vehicle was blown 20 metres into the air. It killed hundreds of civilians as well as members of Spain's armed forces, including a shopping center bombing in Barcelona that killed 21 people and injured 45 more.

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