After almost 60 years, Basque separatist movement ETA is no more

A cleaner removes the graffiti saying'Long live ETA from dowtown Pamplona

ETA: Basque separatist group disbands after decades of conflict

The Basque separatist group ETA said it has dismantled its organizational structure after a six-decade independence campaign that killed hundreds in Spain, taking the final step in disbanding after disarming a year ago and bringing an end to one of Europe's bloodiest nationalist conflicts in recent times.

"ETA has made a decision to declare its historical cycle and functions terminated, putting an end to its journey", the group said in a letter published Wednesday by Spanish online newspaper El Diario.

On Wednesday, Basques welcomed news of ETA's dissolution.

A spokesman for the Basque regional government said that it received ETA's letter "a few days earlier".

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Many ETA victims or relatives say the separatist group should first and foremost condemn their history of violence and shed light on more than 350 unsolved crimes.

Founded in 1958 during Gen. Francisco Franco's regime, the group grabbed global headlines when it killed the dictator's anointed successor, Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco, in 1973.

Attacks including a 1987 vehicle bomb at a Barcelona supermarket, which killed a pregnant woman and two children, horrified people in Spain and overseas, and effective crackdowns by Spanish and French police weakened ETA.

Spain has vowed to continue investigating the ETA's crimes.

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Maite Pagazaurtundua, the sister of police officer Joseba Pagazaurtundua, says "the truth is that in (ETA's) plans for the future, they always had violence and lies".

The group's letter, dated April 16 but published on Wednesday, ends its almost six-decade-long campaign to create a Basque homeland in a region straddling northern Spain and southwestern France. "Some are still bleeding, because the suffering is not in the past", read Eta's disbandment letter, which also said that the group "acknowledges the suffering caused as a result of its struggle". It remained active long after Franco's own death in 1975.

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".

The campaign - during which ETA carried out bombings and armed attacks against the Spanish state - killed at least 840 people, including some 340 civilians.

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The group has demanded that prisoners be moved to prisons closer to their families after the end of ETA.

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