U.S. to block assets of Spanish separatists

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration widened its financial assault against global terror Tuesday and ordered banks to block assets of 21 people identified as members of a separatist group that has mounted terror attacks in Spain.

The Treasury Department said all 21 belong to the Basque Fatherland and Liberty, commonly known in Spain as the Basque ETA separatists.

The State Department designated the ETA a foreign terrorist organization last year. The group was founded in 1959 to establish an independent state in Spain's northern Basque region.

The government said ETA has carried out bombings and assassinated Spanish government officials, especially security and military forces and politicians. It has claimed responsibility for killing about 800 people since it first assassinated a Spanish policeman in 1968.

None of the 21 people are connected to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks or Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network, the U.S. government's prime suspect behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

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