Eta blamed for fatal Madrid bomb

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A car bomb exploded in a working-class neighbourhood of Madrid yesterday, killing one policeman and injuring 13 others in an attack authorities blamed on the Basque separatist group Eta.

The explosion occurred shortly after 8.30pm local time in the southern Madrid neighbourhood of Aluche, near an office of the Justice Ministry, emergency service spokesman Leopoldo Hernaiz said.

Mr Hernaiz said 13 people were slightly injured with cuts and bruises, as well as with hearing problems caused by the explosion. Five were taken to hospital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but police said they received a warning 15 minutes before the blast from a caller who identified himself as a member of Eta. They said the car was loaded with up to 44 pounds of explosives.

The dead man was Luis Ortiz de la Rosa, 34, a policeman who was trying to clear the area after the phone warning. The officer was reported to be married and had a 17-month-old baby.

The Basque group Gesto por la Paz – Gesture for Peace – said they were organising more than 100 rallies for today to protest the killing.

The most recent explosion blamed on Eta occurred in Madrid on 28 June when a bomb injured an army general.

Television footage last night showed shattered windows, wrecked cars and glass littering the street.

Rafael Hernando, a spokesman for the ruling Popular Party, described to bombing as "a new savage act by Eta."Since the group ended a 14th-month long cease-fire in December 1999, it has claimed responsibility for 31 killings. (AP)