18 Injured In Madrid Blast

Fireman looks out of a damaged office building after a powerful car bomb exploded in Madrid Wednesday following a warning call from the armed Basque separatist group ETA. Eighteen people were slightly injured in this latest of a string of explosions since Spain's prime minister offered talks with the armed Basque separatist group if it renounces violence. (AP Photo/Mariana Eliano) AP

A powerful car bomb exploded in Madrid Wednesday after a warning call from the armed Basque separatist group ETA, police said. It was the latest of a string of attacks since Spain's prime minister offered talks with the group if it renounces violence.

Eighteen people were slightly injured, said Beatriz Martin, the city's emergency medical department spokeswoman. The explosion occurred around 9:30 a.m. in a working-class district north of the Spanish capital.

Police cordoned off the area where the bomb went off after an anonymous caller to the Basque newspaper Gara, which often serves as a mouthpiece for ETA, said a bomb would explode inside a Renault van.

Television images showed a large column of black smoke rising from the area of the explosion.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, speaking in a previously scheduled Senate session shortly after the explosion, insisted "the only fate that the terrorist group ETA has is to lay down weapons and dissolve."

Police estimated the bomb contained 40 to 44 pounds of explosives, Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso told reporters. "The explosion was really a big one," he said.
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