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POLICE FOIL PLOT TO ASSASSINATE SPAIN'S KING

Police said Thursday they had foiled an apparent plot by Basque separatists to assassinate King Juan Carlos on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca.

Three people who had been following the royal family were arrested on the island late Wednesday with a stash of weapons, and eight more were arrested Thursday in the Basque regions of France and Spain in connection with the plot.The three people arrested on Mallorca, all members of the Basque separatist group ETA, had rented an apartment near the king's summer residence and planned an attack on the king or another member of the royal family, said National Police Chief Angel Olivares.

Police seized two machine guns, a rifle with telescopic sighting equipment, several pistols and explosives, he said.

Interior Secretary Margarita Robles told National Radio that police also found "documents showing the royal family was being followed."

Arrested were Juan Jose Rego Vidal; his son, Inaki; and Jorge Garcia Sertucha. News reports said Rego Vidal was arrested in 1978 and later jailed for planning an attack on Juan Carlos and then-Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez.

Seven people were arrested Thursday in connection with the plot in France's southwestern Basque region, including the wife and daughter of Rego Vidal. Another person was arrested in the Spanish Basque city of San Sebastian.

ETA has killed 750 people, mostly security force members, since it began a campaign in 1968 for the independence of northern Spain's three Basque provinces.

Its name is a Basque-language acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom.

A palace spokeswoman in Madrid said the king, who has been in Mallorca with Queen Sofia and other members of the royal family since mid-July, had been informed of the operation but did not intend to change his vacation plans.