Basque Separatist Group ETA Announces Official Dissolution

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Basque separatist group ETA announced it was fully disbanding, the final step to the definitive end of its deadly decades-long independence campaign, in a letter published on Tuesday.

Spanish Interior Minister Zoido vowed to keep investigating unresolved crimes attributed to ETA and going after ts members.

"All these years of terrorism were for nothing", she said in her office in the coastal town of San Sebastian, where a black and white photograph of her father sits on the desk.

Founded in the late 1950s, Eta claimed its first victim, civil guard José Pardines, in 1968 and went on to kill over 800 people during its campaign for an independent Basque state.

Spain's Association of Terror Victims said the dissolution announcement was "a pantomime" and "a farce", and that ETA militants were attempting to portray themselves to the global community as "the good guys".

Like many in his native Basque Country, Garcia had long expected the move.

At a news conference Wednesday in the southern Spanish city of San Sebastian, Covite President Consuelo Ordonez criticized a statement last week in which ETA sought forgiveness from victims "who didn't have a direct role in the conflict".

Worldwide mediators are organizing a peace conference in southwest France on May 4.

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Created in 1959 at the height of Francisco Franco's dictatorship, it is blamed for the deaths of at least 829 people.

It added: "The Basque Country is now before a new opportunity to finally close the conflict and build a collective future". The group, originally gathering youths close to the Basque Nationalist Party, dubbed its self ETA for Euskadi ta Askatasuna or "Basque Homeland and Freedom" in the region's language.

Some of ETA's high-profile terror victims include Prime Minister Luis Carrero - Franco's handpicked successor - and Miguel Angel Blanco, a young politician whose 1997 kidnapping and brutal assassination turned hundreds of thousands of Spaniards against ETA and any grievances it might have had.

THIS stopped the armed struggle for independence of the Basque Country in 2011 and declared a "permanent and General ceasefire". ETA militants conducted numerous bombing attacks across Spain in the coming decades, with over 850 people losing their lives. Attacks by ETA and retaliation by Spanish state death squads traumatised Spain, peaking in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of its senior leaders were arrested.

The group said it has dismantled its organizational structure after a six-decade independence campaign, after first disarming past year and bringing an end to one of Europe's bloodiest nationalist conflicts in recent times.

The declaration was made in a letter dated April 16 and sent to a number of political institutions, Spanish news agency EFE reported.

Victims and historians, though, insist ETA was a terrorist group that went on killing even after Spain transitioned to democracy in the late 1970s.