MADRID – Spaniards inured to cease-fire announcements by the violent Basque separatist group ETA were mulling on Monday whether the latest one holds anything different or will fail like the others to end Europe's last major armed militancy.
The government on swiftly ruled out holding negotiations on a Basque homeland and rejected Sunday's truce as a desperate gambit by an extremist group staggering after the arrests of its leaders.
Spain claimed the cease-fire was just another gambit by ETA in order to buy time, regroup and rearm. And a major newspaper, El Mundo
, ran a cartoon Monday of a hooded ETA gunman in a traditional Basque beret offering an olive branch — albeit one that stuck out of a gun barrel.
Since launching its campaign for an independent Basque homeland in the late 1960s and killing more than 825 people in the process, ETA has announced 11 ceasefires, the last of them in 2006, which it called permanent.