Page last updated at 02:35 GMT, Saturday, 6 February 2010

Portugal police find 'Eta bomb-making cache'

Portuguese police at a villa where explosives believed to belong to Eta were found
The town of Obidos is a popular tourist destination

Portuguese police have seized half a tonne of explosives at a house that they say was being used as a base by Basque separatist group Eta.

The discovery, which also included bomb-making equipment, was made in the central Portugal town of Obidos.

Fake licence plates, detonators and maps were also found, officials said.

A militant group fighting for an independent Basque homeland, Eta has been blamed for more than 820 deaths during its campaign in Spain.

"The material was stored in secure conditions which indicates the work of professionals," local police chief Helder Barros said.

Several of the explosives were ready to be used, he added.

The cache was found after the two occupants of a van fled when officers from the National Republican Guard, which patrols rural Portugal, tried to flag it down outside the town, a popular tourist destination.

Last month two Eta suspects fled into Portugal before being arrested by local police.

The BBC's Alison Roberts, in Lisbon, says that the discovery appears to confirm what many have suspected for some time - that Eta is using sites in Portugal to prepare attacks in Spain.

Our correspondent says that the relentless pursuit of the group by security forces in both Spain and France may have forced it across the border into Portugal.

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