, MADRID, Jan 10 – Armed Basque separatists ETA announced Monday a permanent, verifiable ceasefire after more than 40 years of bloodshed in their fight for a homeland independent of Spain.
"ETA has decided to declare a permanent and general ceasefire which will be verifiable by the international community," it said in a statement distributed to media in Basque, Spanish and English.
"This is ETA\’s firm commitment towards a process to achieve a lasting resolution and towards an end to the armed confrontation."
It is the first time that ETA has unilaterally declared a permanent ceasefire in its campaign of bombings and shootings, which has claimed the lives of 829 people in more than 40 years.
ETA had also announced what it described as a permanent ceasefire in March 2006 within the framework of negotiations with Madrid.
But in December 2006, ETA fighters set off a bomb in the carpark of Madrid-Barajas airport, killing two men. Six months later it formally called off the ceasefire.
"It is time to act with historic responsibility. ETA calls upon those governing Spain and France to end all repressive measures and to leave aside for once and for all their position of denial towards the Basque Country," the latest statement said.
"ETA will continue its indefatigable struggle and efforts to promote and to bring to a conclusion the democratic process until there is a truly democratic situation in the Basque Country."