France - Spain

Zapatero blames Eta for French police killing

A man walks past graffiti and an ETA symbol in the Basque town of Guernica, Spain, on 14 March, 2010
A man walks past graffiti and an ETA symbol in the Basque town of Guernica, Spain, on 14 March, 2010 Reuters

Spanish  Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero has blamed Basque separatist group Eta for Tuesday's killing of a French police officer outside Paris. He dubbed the shooting "a criminal action carried out by the terrorist gang Eta".

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Police officer Jean-Serge Nérin was killed after a police patrol tried to questions the occupants of a speeding car in Dammarie-les-Lys. Gunmen in another vehicle opened fire on the officers and Nérin, a 52-year-old father of four, died from his injuries an hour later.

"I have felt the assassination of this gendarme as if it were a member of our own security forces because I know how much they work with us and are dedicated to the cause of Freedom and finishing off Eta," he said in Madrid.

French Families Minister Nadine Morano paid tribute to the police on France 2 TV, declaring on that the do a "dangerous job" where "they can lose their lives". Another police officer was killed by robbers near Dammarie at the end of last year.

An initial investigation has revealed that the fatal shooting at Dammarie-les-Lys, about 50 kilometres southeast of the French capital, took place following a robbery at a nearby garage.

One man was arrested after the robbery and was “heard speaking Basque”, according to Spanish media.

Sources close to the investigation said on Wednesday that they are following “several leads” but police are thought to be focusing on Eta.

The armed movement has waged a 41-year campaign for independence for the Basque region of northern Spain and south western France.

It is classified as a terrorist organisation by both the European Union and the United States and resumed attacks in 2007 following a 15-month truce.

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