updated 4/18/2009 4:09:24 PM ET 2009-04-18T20:09:24

Three suspected members of the Basque separatist organization ETA have been arrested in southern France, including one considered to be the group's military leader, officials said Saturday.

France's Interior Ministry said three suspected militants were arrested in Montauriol, in the Pyrenees Orientales region.

A spokesman for Spain's Interior Ministry identified one of the three as Jurdan Martitegi Lizaso, who is considered ETA's current military chief.

ETA has suffered a wave of arrests of its suspected members in recent months in France and Spain.

The previous suspected leader, Aitzol Iriondo, was arrested in southern France on Dec. 8, three weeks after his alleged predecessor, Mikel de Garikoitz Aspiazu, alias Txeroki, was caught in France.

The French Interior Ministry statement said that with Saturday's three arrests, five suspected ETA militants had been arrested in 10 days.

One man, Ekaitz Sirvent Auzmendi, was arrested a week ago as he drew a .357 Magnum revolver on a crowded Paris railway platform.

ETA has been waging a violent campaign since the late 1960s for an independent Basque state straddling northern Spain and southwest France.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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