A CAR bomb rocked central Madrid just after dawn yesterday, injuring nine people in the latest attack blamed on the Basque separatist group ETA, officials said. The explosion in the heart of Madrid's popular Callao shopping district occurred outside a big department store just after 6:30 a.m., showering the area with glass and debris. The injuries were mostly minor, although a 52-year-old Israeli man was listed in serious condition with a broken pelvis and shrapnel wounds, a hospital statement said. The timing of the blast -before the morning rush hour helped avoid greater bloodshed. Police said the car was packed with more than 20 kg (44 lbs) of explosives. Anonymous calls in the name of ETA alerted police to the bomb about 20 minutes before the blast. But officials said there was not enough time to locate and defuse it, a government spokesman said. National Police Chief Juan Cortino said the bomb went off 10 minutes ahead of the announced time, leading investigators to believe the warnings may have been a trick to lure police closer to the explosion. “It's possible their main objective was to kill police when they arrived,” he said. In 1995 a policeman died when a car bomb exploded at the same spot. Paramedics treated seven people for physical injuries and two for shock, officials said. The Israeli man and two others were still in hospital at midday. “I was asleep when it happened,” one local resident said. “It was horrible, a huge scare. I thought the world had split in two. I thought the building had fallen down.”


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