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The BBC's Flora Botsford reports
"A number of people were in tears as the names were read out"
 real 28k

Saturday, 12 August, 2000, 18:43 GMT 19:43 UK
Rally for ETA dead
ETA rally in Bilbao
Photos of the dead were placed on a stage
Thousands of people in the Spanish city of Bilbao have attended a pro-independence rally to commemorate the deaths of four members of the armed Basque separatist organisation, ETA, who died on Monday.

The rally came as police in the Basque region tightened security after a recent spate of attacks and street violence blamed on the group.

Anti-ETA march through Pamplona
Thousands marched on Friday demanding ETA end its campaign
A post office in the town of Durango was set on fire on Saturday and a petrol bomb was thrown at a police officer's home.

Earlier, police arrested five youths on suspicion of involvement in a bomb attack on a bank.


The families and friends of the ETA members who died last Monday when explosives they were carrying in their car blew-up attended the rally in Bilbao on Saturday.

It began with huge photographs of the dead men being placed on the stage at the front.

Floral tributes were laid down as the crowd broke into spontaneous applause.

ETA supporters
Despite the violence ETA supporters remain defiant
The spokesman for ETA's political wing repeated his earlier description of the dead as "patriots who were fighting for their country."

On Friday the organisation claimed responsibility for 12 attacks between May and July, including assassinations of two politicians.

The demonstration comes at a time of heightened tensions in the region.

Over the past few days, assailants have thrown Molotov cocktails at bank offices ,and burnt some 13 buses and dozens of cars in different Basque cities.

Crisis meeting

Police suspect ETA supporters carried out the attacks.

On Friday, more than 30,000 people marched through the city of Pamplona in northern Spain to protest at the killing of an army officer, an act for which the group has also been blamed.

Braving pouring rain, the protesters were led by the widow of the murdered officer and his father, as well as representatives of Spain's main political parties.

ETA, which ended a 14-month ceasefire in December, has been blamed for more than 800 deaths since its violent campaign for an independent Basque homeland began in 1968.

Recent attacks include the murders of Jose Maria Martin Carpena, a councillor from the governing Popular Party, and a former Basque provincial governor Juan Maria Jauregui.

On Friday, the government held a crisis meeting with opposition leaders in Madrid in an attempt to end the violence.

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See also:

12 Aug 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
On the trail of ETA
12 Aug 00 | Europe
Thousands protest at ETA violence
10 Aug 00 | Europe
In pictures: Tensions in Spain
11 Aug 00 | Europe
ETA admits murders
10 Aug 00 | Europe
Rival protests in Spain
02 Dec 99 | Europe
ETA's bloody record
12 Aug 00 | Europe
Day of action marks ETA funerals
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