One of those arrested in Joigny, 100 miles south-east of Paris, was identified yesterday as 33-year-old Jon Echeverria Oyarbide, for whom there is an international arrest warrant. Spanish police said he was in possession of material used in the manufacture of explosives.
The others were Ruben Rivero Campo, who is wanted for “an election offence” and Inigo Sancho Marco. The arrests took place on Saturday afternoon.
An official at the Paris prosecutor’s office said one of the men arrested had been under police surveillance and was suspected of involvement in the 2010 murder of a French policeman, but did not specify which one.
A statement said officers had spotted Echeverria at Bercy railway station in Paris and tailed him to Joigny, where an apparent rendezvous with the other men took place.
The men were armed and police found a car with false licence plates in the station car park in Joigny.
The arrests occurred a day after Spain’s interior minister, Jorge Fernandez, insisted that as long as Eta existed, its members would be hunted down.
Spanish state broadcaster TVE said the three were being held at Auxerre police station awaiting transport to Paris.
Eta has killed 829 people since the late 1960s, in bombings and shootings aimed at forcing the creation of a Basque homeland in northern Spain and south-west France.
Waves of arrests in recent years have repeatedly weakened Eta’s structure and diminished its ability to perform acts of terrorism or collect funds.