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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
ETA starts extortion in euros
ETA bomb in San Sebastian
ETA's campaign has killed 34 people in 18 months
The Basque separatist group ETA has pre-empted Spain's changeover from the peseta to the euro - by demanding that its "revolutionary tax" be paid in the new currency.

cheque in euros
Cheques can already be made out in euros
The Spanish Interior Ministry confirmed that ETA's latest batch of extortion letters asked businesses in the Basque region to pay between 30,000 and 60,000 euros ($27,000 to $55,000).

Euro notes and coins will not officially be available until 1 January 2001, but cheques made out in euros are already accepted in the 12 EU member states which are joining the single currency.

ETA threatened reprisals against family members in cases of non-payment.

Reprisals

About 10% of Basque businesses pay what ETA calls a tax to support "the struggle of the Basque people".

Summer bombings
27 August: Madrid airport, no injuries
20 August: San Sebastian, 1 killed, 1 injured
18 August: Salou, 13 injured
They tend to be smaller companies which cannot afford to hire their own bodyguards.

Jose Maria Korta, who had called on local businesses not to submit to the separatists demands, was killed in a car bomb last year.

ETA is reported to have this year widened its extortion campaign to include part of south-western France which it claims as Basque territory.

This summer ETA, which is blamed for about 800 deaths in its 33-year campaign for an independent Basque state, has targeted several popular tourist resorts in a bombing campaign.

See also:

23 Aug 01 | Business
Spanish holidays under threat?
19 Aug 01 | Europe
Tourists urged to stay in Spain
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