At least three killed as suspected car-bomb rocks Madrid

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The Independent Online

A Supreme Court magistrate, his bodyguard and chauffeur were killed and some 20 others injured when a suspected Basque separatist car bomb rocked a busy residential area of Madrid during this morning's rush hour, news reports said.

A Supreme Court magistrate, his bodyguard and chauffeur were killed and some 20 others injured when a suspected Basque separatist car bomb rocked a busy residential area of Madrid during this morning's rush hour, news reports said.

The judge was identified as Jose Francisco Querol, Telemadrid television reported citing the court sources. The television said the other two victims were Querol's bodyguard and the car's driver.

Police could not be immediately contacted to confirm the report.

The blast occurred at 9.15 (0815 gmt) as people were going to work and children to schools in the Artura Soria area of north east Madrid.

At least 20 others were being treated for injuries, municipal police spokesman Jose Javier Rodriguez said.

One municipal transport bus was completely burnt out in the blast. It was not known if it was carrying passengers at the time but the driver was among those seriously injured.

Although no group claimed the blast, police and media immediately blamed the Basque separatist group ETA which has frequently used car-bombs as part of its 32-year-old campaign for Basque independence.

The group is blamed for some 800 killings since 1968, including 16 so far this year prior to Monday's deaths. Its last attributed attack was October 22 when a prison officer was killed by a bomb attached to his car.

Monday's blast area was like a war scene with smoldering cars strewn across the road and people running about frantically.

"I was just waking up when I heard a tremendous explosion. It blew out my windows and I put my arms over my head," said 24-year-old Ricardo Villaverde, who lives in an apartment just above where the bomb exploded.

"The glass cut my face," he added. "I looked out the window and people were crazy and panicking in street."

Police cordoned off the area for fear another bomb may be planted in the zone.

The explosion smashed windows and damaged several buildings and police had to evacuate several people from their homes.

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