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ETA blamed for fatal Madrid blast

A bystander walks past wreckage from the blast in Madrid on Tuesday
A bystander walks past wreckage from the blast in Madrid on Tuesday  

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Basque separatists are being blamed for a car bomb in Madrid that killed a policeman and injured at least 12.

The blast happened at 8:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) in a southern neighbourhood of the Spanish capital near a justice ministry building. Authorities said at least seven of those injured needed hospital treatment.

Authorities received a warning call 45 minutes before the blast from someone claiming to be part of the Basque separatist group ETA, and police were clearing the area when the bomb exploded, state TV reports.

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Authorities say Luis Ortiz de la Rosa, died in the blast. News reports said he was 33, married and the father of a young child.

The victim was a police officer working for the national police force, which is directly involved in fighting the separatists. Police officers are often ETA targets.

Politicians condemned the attack, pinning the blame clearly on ETA. "It has been a new savage act by ETA," Rafael Hernando, spokesman of the ruling Popular Party, told The Associated Press.

The bomb came just one day before Juan Jose Ibarretxe was to begin a four-year term as regional president following his Basque Nationalist Party's election victory.

"It was a big explosion, heard for kilometers around," a spokesman for Madrid's paramedics service told state television from near the scene. "The injuries were not survivable. No attempt was even made to resuscitate him."

Television showed pictures of a small residential street where the facades of buildings were damaged and windows blown out.

ETA is blamed for about 800 killings in its 33-year fight for independence, including 32 deaths since it called off a unilateral ceasefire in December 1999.

The group has not claimed responsibility for all of those killings. When ETA claims responsibility for attacks, it typically does so in the Basque media, sometimes days or weeks after the attacks occur.

The most recent attack blamed on ETA was on June 28, when a bomb hidden in bicycle in Madrid was exploded by remote control, injuring an army division commander.

• Interior Ministry (in Spanish)
• Association for Peace in the Basque Country

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