Basque group ETA ends armed independence campaign

By the Associated Press | October 23, 2011 | 1:16 PM EDT

MADRID (AP) — The Basque armed group ETA has issued a statement saying it is ending its 43-year armed campaign for independence and calling on Spain and France to open talks.

The group made the announcement in a statement Thursday to the Basque daily Gara which it regularly uses as a mouthpiece.

ETA declared a permanent cease-fire in January, but up to now had not renounced armed struggle as a tool for achieving an independent Basque state, a key demand by the Spanish government.

The group has killed 829 people in bombings and shootings since the late 1960s. It is classified as a terrorist organization by Spain, the European Union and the U.S.