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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

42 Injured in Madrid Car Bomb

MADRID -- A powerful car bomb exploded in Madrid on Wednesday, injuring at least 42 people, following a telephone warning from a caller claiming to represent the armed Basque separatist group ETA, officials said.

The explosion came hours after at least 14 suspected members of ETA were arrested in several Spanish cities, and a week after Spain's parliament rejected a plan to give the Basque region autonomy bordering on independence. It was the worst blast in Spain's capital since the train bombings of last March 11, which killed 191 people and were claimed by militants who said they acted on behalf of al-Qaida.

The bomb exploded shortly after 9:30 a.m. near Ifema, a sprawling convention center where King Juan Carlos was to inaugurate a major art show later in the day, an Interior Ministry official said. He was to have been accompanied by President Vicente Fox of Mexico. The royal palace said the ceremony was still on for the evening.

The bomb exploded outside a building housing the French computer manufacturer Bull, the official said. It sent up a huge plume of white smoke, shattering thick panes of glass in that and other buildings and damaging parked cars. The building is next to a plaza with a large bust of the king's late father, Juan de Borbon.

A witness identified only as Daniel told CNN+ television that the bomb shook his heavy four-wheel-drive car as he drove about 100 meters away from the blast site.

"It was an extremely powerful explosion," he said. "The car shook as if something had fallen on top of it."

Forty-two people suffered bruises, cuts from flying glass and damaged eardrums, said Javier Ayuso, a spokesman for the Madrid emergency medical service. No one was seriously hurt, he said.

Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said early estimates are that the car bomb contained 20 to 30 kilograms of explosives. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, speaking during a visit to Poland, said, "I want to tell ETA terrorists, and those who support them, that there is no room for them in political life nor in society. Bombs lead only to prison." The telephone warning was received by the Basque newspaper Gara, which often serves as a mouthpiece for ETA. But the bomb went off at a spot down the street from the building where the caller had said it would explode, officials said.

A week ago, parliament overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to give the Basque region autonomy. The regional president, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, responded by calling early elections for April 17 in an apparent bid to capitalize quickly on Basque nationalists' anger over the rejection. The party seen as ETA's political wing, Batasuna, was outlawed in 2003, and Spanish officials insisted last week that it would not be allowed to field candidates in the election.

ETA detonated a small bomb in a Mediterranean resort hotel on Jan. 30, two days before the vote in parliament. One person was slightly injured.

The group is blamed for more than 800 deaths since the late 1960s in a campaign of bombings and shootings aimed at creating an independent Basque homeland in land straddling northern Spain and southwest France. ETA carried out a string of small bombings in northern resort towns over the summer. It also detonated seven bombs around Spain on Dec. 6 -- the anniversary of Spain's 1978 constitution that set up the system of regional autonomy that ETA abhors as insufficient.