Madrid – Spanish separatist group ETA announced Thursday it has ended its armed campaign and political efforts to create a Basque homeland, though the Spanish government vowed to continue prosecuting the organization’s militants.

ETA, which killed more than 850 people in its six decades of existence, said in an open letter to the Basque people that it has “completely dismantled all of its structures” and “will no longer express political positions, promote initiatives or interact with other stakeholders.”

The letter was published by the Basque news website, a day after the group’s intentions were leaked in a letter.

Former militants will keep on seeking a “reunited, independent, socialist, Basque-speaking and non-patriarchal Basque country,” but they will do it outside of ETA, the letter said.

A key challenge for left-wing Basque separatists “will be to bring into effect the right to decide, in order to achieve recognition of our nationhood,” it added.

But Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy expressed no sympathy with the Basque dream of self-determination, calling the disbanding of ETA “noise and propaganda.”

Rajoy said the group had failed in imposing through violence an independent Basque state.

“Whatever ETA does or says, it won’t find any loophole for impunity,” Rajoy said. “ETA can announce its disappearance, but its crimes or the action of the judiciary won’t disappear.”

ETA, which stands for “Basque Homeland and Freedom” in the Basque language, carried out bombings, shootings and kidnappings, most of them after Spain transitioned to democracy in the late ‘70s.


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