updated 6/5/2007 3:54:23 AM ET 2007-06-05T07:54:23

The armed Basque separatist group ETA said Tuesday it has called off the cease-fire it declared last year, setting the stage for a resumption of attacks.

ETA said in a statement sent to two Basque newspapers that the truce it called in March 2006 will end as of midnight Tuesday. ETA said it will be “active on all fronts to defend the Basque homeland.”

When ETA declared the cease-fire last year, it called the truce permanent and said it wanted a negotiated end to the nearly 40-year conflict, which has left more than 800 people dead.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced in June 2006 that his government would negotiate with ETA.

These talks — never confirmed by the government but widely believed to have taken place — apparently went nowhere, and ETA set off a huge bomb at Madrid airport on Dec. 30, killing two people. Even so, ETA insisted the truce stood, and said the two fatalities were unintended.

ETA blamed Zapatero for the failure of the peace process, and complained that the Basque leg of local elections on May 27 were illegitimate because most pro-independence politicians that wanted to run were barred by Spanish courts on grounds of links to ETA’s outlawed political wing, Batasuna.

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