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Raft of raids left armed group with no choice, say authorities

National Police and the Civil Guard are celebrating ETA's announcement of an end to its decades-long violence, though with a certain dose of mistrust. Everyone involved in antiterrorism policy insists that if the terrorist organization is coming to an end, it is not because of some independent process of stock-taking, but because of its weakness following sustained police action against it.

"Let nobody be fooled: we have defeated ETA," said antiterrorist leaders.

Soon after the announcement, the Pro Civil Guard Association, which brings together antiterrorist officers, expressed joy at "the definitive defeat" of ETA and underlined that a raft of police raids had left ETA with just one way out: "unconditional rendition."

ETA is quitting at a time when it has only 50 terrorists walking free and over 700 behind bars, and much less popular support. The terrorist group leaves behind a 50-year trail of attacks, 828 victims and hundreds of millions of euros in damages.

"Nobody should think that we could have reached this situation if the antiterrorist fight had failed," said sources at the Interior Ministry. "This is the result of constant pressure, international cooperation and the fact that we left them without any leaders time and again."