MADRID (Reuters) – Spain announced on Monday, a day before the funeral of a French policeman shot dead by suspected members of the Basque separatist group ETA, that it was stepping up security until the end of June.
“Recent events and the information available make it advisable to increase the alert to ‘high intensity’ within level 2 and maintain it at that level … until the end of the Spanish Presidency of the European Union,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The funeral of the policeman, Jean-Serge Nerin, killed in a suburb near Paris six days ago, is due to take place in France on Tuesday. Nerin, 52, was shot dead when his patrol intercepted a group who had stolen cars from a car showroom last Tuesday.
In December, Spain’s Interior Minister said security forces would be extra vigilant during the country’s tenure of the rotating EU presidency, saying ETA might plan a spectacular attack while Spain was in the international spotlight.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised to hunt down the group responsible for the shooting.
Nerin is thought to be the first French policeman to be killed by ETA, which has come under increasing pressure since the arrests of senior ETA leaders in Spain and France.
The group, which wants an independent Basque homeland in part of northern Spain and southern France, has killed more than 850 people since it was founded over 50 years ago during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.