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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Spanish gangs clash with police

BBC: Gangs of youths have clashed with police in Spain's Basque country, throwing bottles and stones.

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and made one arrest during the clashes in the northern town of Mungia.

It came two days after Spain's highest court ruled that three outlawed Basque youth organisations should be re-defined as terrorist organisations.

The court said it was because of their links to the armed Basque separatist group Eta.

The ruling means those convicted of being members of the groups Jarrai, Haika and Segi will face longer prison sentences.

Disturbances were reported in other towns across northern Spain.

Prosecutors have accused the gangs of committing low-level street violence in the region, including setting fire to buses and to cash machines.

Eta, which in the Basque language stands for Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna (Basque fatherland and freedom), has waged a violent campaign for autonomy from Madrid since its inception in 1959.

Eta had adopted a permanent ceasefire in March, but then claimed a December attack on Madrid airport which killed two people.

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