Car Bomb in Madrid Kills 5 Guards; Basques Blamed
A car bomb exploded in a fashionable district of central Madrid early today, killing at least five paramilitary soldiers in a passing vehicle, police said.
Joaquin Leguina, president of the Madrid regional government, told Spanish television that the blast appeared to be the work of the Basque separatist organization ETA.
Four other paramilitary Civil Guards and four civilians also were hurt by the blast, police said.
The explosion occurred at 7:25 a.m. (9:25 p.m. PST Thursday) on Juan Bravo Street in the Salamanca district as a Land Rover with the Civil Guards drove by.
Police said it appeared that the bomb had been planted in a car parked on the street, and that the blast seemed timed to the daily approach of the vehicle carrying the Civil Guards.
Antonio Molina, a spokesman for the Madrid civil governor’s office, said the vehicle had picked up guards coming off the night watch at the Italian Embassy and was taking other guards to the day shift at the Soviet Embassy and the Ministry of Public Health.
Three of the paramilitary soldiers died instantly and two others died an hour later in a hospital.
Witnesses said the bomb blast also heavily damaged two floors of the San Antonio de Rosario Maternity Clinic, located near the intersection of Juan Bravo and Principe de Vergara streets. Clinic personnel said newborn babies had been moved from a lower floor less than 20 minutes before the blast.
Since 1968, ETA has claimed responsibility for the deaths of more than 500 police and military officers.
Shortly after the blast, the American School in suburban Aravaca northwest of the city received a bomb threat, school secretary Ariane Doorenbos told the Associated Press. A dozen policemen rushed to the school. They found no bomb.