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Wednesday, September 16, 1998 Published at 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK

World: Europe

ETA: Key events

Estimated six million took to the streets after ETA killed Miguel Angel Blanco in 1997

More than 800 lives have been lost during ETA's 30-year campaign for a sovereign Basque state.

Franco years

  • 1937: General Franco occupies Basque country. The Basques had enjoyed a degree of autonomy which they now were denied. Franco regime ruthlessly repressed their aspirations for independence

  • 1959: ETA is founded with the aim of creating an independent homeland in Spain's Basque region. The full name of the organisation - Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna - means Basque fatherland and freedom.

  • 1961: ETA's violent campaign begins with an attempt to derail train transporting politicians.

  • 1968: ETA kills its first victim, Meliton Manzanas, a secret police chief in San Sebastian.

Violence continues

  • 1978: ETA's political wing Herri Batasuna is founded.

  • 1980: 118 people are killed in ETA's bloodiest year so far.

  • 1995:Attempt to assassinate the leader of the opposition Popular Party (now Prime Minister), Jose Maria Aznar, with a car bomb.

New government

  • March 1996: Right-wing Popular Party wins general election. There was speculation that the change of government would lead to a crackdown against ETA, which later proved wrong. But ETA apparently views the Popular Party as heir to General Franco's dictatorship.

  • 1997: Start of ETA's campaign against local Popular Party politicians.

  • July 1997: ETA kidnaps and kills Basque councillor Miguel Angel Blanco, sparking national outrage and bringing an estimated 6 million Spaniards on the streets.

Leaders jailed

  • December 1997: 23 leaders of Herri Batasuna jailed for 7 years for collaborating with ETA. The case centred on an video featuring armed and masked ETA guerrillas, which the party tried to show during general election campaign. This was the first time any members of the party have been jailed for co-operating with ETA.

  • February 1998: Herri Batasuna elects new provisional leadership.

Cross-party talks

  • March 1998: Spain's main political parties engage in talks to end violence in the Basque region. The government is not involved.

  • April 1998: Northern Ireland peace agreement signed. ETA is understood to have been heavily influenced by the Northern Ireland peace process. ETA has traditionally had relations with the Irish republicans and the political wing Herri Batasuna has been schooled by Sinn Fein on strategy for negotiation.

  • June 1998: The latest ETA death takes place, as car bomb kills Popular Party councillor Manuel Zamarreno.

  • September 1998: ETA announces its first indefinite cease-fire since its 30-year campaign of violence began, effective from 18 September.

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