Joint operation

The Spanish officers were taking part in a counter-terrorist operation with French counterparts.

"Forty years of black terrorist history have not been enough for them to learn to judge the immense strength of Spain's society"

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero,
Spain's prime minister
They had stopped at a cafe for coffee and found themselves a few tables away from three Eta suspects, Michele Alliot-Marie, France's interior minister, said.

As the officers returned to their car, the suspects approached them and then gunshots were fired, she said.

The attackers then kidnapped a woman and used her car to escape from police, an official said on condition of anonymity.

The woman was reportedly tied to a tree but freed herself and reached police in the nearby town of Leognan.

Alliot-Marie said the officers had been tracking Eta members "who come to French territory to seek refuge or to prepare operations".

Zapatero identified the dead officer as Raul Centeno and the injured one as Fernando Trapero.

"Forty years of black terrorist history have not been enough for them to learn to judge the immense strength of Spain's society," he said.

Condolences

Nicolas Sarkozy, France's prime minister, called Zapatero to offer condolences and to offer France's continued commitment against Eta, a statement from the Spanish government said.

The separatist group declared a ceasefire in March 2006 but became disillusioned with peace talks with Zapatero's Socialist government.

The group killed two people in a car bombing at Madrid airport in December 2006, and declared the truce formally over in June.

Eta has killed about 800 people since the late 1960s and has launched several attacks since June but there had been no fatalities or serious injuries until Saturday.