Attacks acknowledged
 
In the statement, ETA also claimed responsibility for explosions along the route the Tour de France bicycle race in July, an August car bombing of a Basque police station, the explosion of a motor home in southern Spain in August, and an attack last week in the La Rioja region.
 
The Basque Nationalist Party, which rules the region in northern Spain, also faced criticism from the separatists for trying to "rupture" the nationalist movement.

Dozens of Eta activists, including 22 in Spain and 19 in France, have been arrested in police crackdowns in recent months.

Earlier this week, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, Spain's interior minister, said that some of the arrests in France were of "enormous importance".

He said that some of the suspects had played a role in a bomb attack at Madrid's Barajas airport last December that killed two people.

Activists' flight
 
Xabier Suspegerri, an Eta supporter who describes himself as a political exile in France, told Al Jazeera that many Basques active in the separatist movement had fled.

"It's hard to know how many political refugees there are. We estimate there are about 2,000, but there is no list," he said.

"We should bear in mind that the Basque country is tiny. We only have three million people, so that really means something."

Eta, whose name stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom, is blamed for the deaths of more than 800 people during four decades of armed struggle for an independent Basque country in northern Spain and southwestern France.