January 21, 2007 / 3:08 PM / 12 years ago

Basque youths battle police, 3 arrested

MADRID (Reuters) - Youths threw petrol bombs, stones and bottles at police in northern Spain early on Sunday, police said, after Spain’s Supreme Court ruled that violent street gangs in the region linked to ETA rebels were “terrorists”.

Police in Pamplona arrested two youths for public disturbances, said a spokesman for the central government representative in the northern province of Navarra, claimed by Basque separatists. Hooded youths hurled petrol bombs and other missiles from behind barricades of rubbish bins.

“The police are absolutely certain these incidents are linked to (outlawed youth organisation) Segi,” the spokesman said.

Youths threw stones and bottles at police at 3 a.m. demonstrations in the town of Munguia in the Basque country, a police spokeswoman said. Police arrested a 17-year-old on charges of public disturbance, she said.

In further overnight incidents, flammable liquid was thrown and set alight at an office of the Basque Socialist Party in the town of Zumarraga, and paint was thrown at the party’s office in Iurreta, police said.

The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that three outlawed Basque youth organisations were “terrorist”, a decision that means longer jail sentences for convicted members.

Prosecutors argued that the Basque street gangs Jarrai, Haika and Segi set out to commit crime, disturb and terrify.

Separatist gangs have waged a campaign of low-level street violence in the northern Spanish region, burning buses and setting light to cash machines.

They have been dubbed “ETA’s puppies” by the press because of their links to the Basque guerrilla movement ETA, which has waged a 40-year campaign for independence, killing around 800 people.

Three weeks ago ETA planted a bomb in a car park at Madrid airport, killing two people and pulling the plug on a nine-month peace process.

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