Spain confirms ETA base in Portugal

Spain’s Interior Ministry has confirmed that the Basque separatist group ETA has been “trying to set up” a bomb factory in Portugal.

The confirmation came from the Spanish Interior Minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, in Seville last Friday, after the Portuguese authorities had discovered around 1,500 kilos of explosives at a property on the outskirts of Óbidos.

Rubalcaba said that they had known of the possibility of ETA setting up an operation in Portugal since January when a van was intercepted at Zamora on the Spanish-Portuguese border containing electrical material.

The vehicle’s occupants, who were ETA members, had fled to Portugal but were detained by the GNR police at Torre de Moncorvo.

According to Rubalcaba, ETA members, under pressure from both French and Spanish security and police forces, had decided to transfer their logistical operations and their bomb factory to Portugal.

The Spanish minister congratulated his Portuguese counterpart for the operation carried out by the Portuguese police in Óbidos.

The Portuguese Polícia Judiciária (PJ) admitted for the first time on Friday last week that ETA had “hiding places” in Portugal.

The PJ’s National Director, Almeida Rodrigues, confirmed his suspicions after the explosives were found at Casal da Avarela near Óbidos on Thursday.

It was the largest cache of ETA explosives ever discovered outside Spain and could indicate that a strong ETA organised presence in Portugal has existed for some time.

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