A car bomb blamed on the armed Basque separatist group ETA exploded in Madrid yesterday, slightly injuring a government official believed to be its target and hurting 98 others, four of them seriously. The blast ripped through a residential street at about 9:10 a.m., spraying a three-year old girl and her mother with metal fragments and destroying several cars parked nearby. An emergency services spokesman told Reuters that 99 people had been injured. A Tunisian man suffered serious burns and a British woman lost an eye, local media reported. The British Embassy in Madrid confirmed a British woman was injured. A senior Science and Technology Ministry official seemed to have been the target but escaped with minor cuts after the suspected ETA members apparently misjudged the timing of his car passing the bomb, an Interior Ministry spokesman said. Police said they arrested two people nearby who were carrying explosives, a pistol and wigs after the blast. A passer-by telephoned police after seeing the suspects make their get-away in a second car. Explosives experts carried out a controlled explosion on the vehicle shortly after. “If things had occurred differently we could be mourning the deaths of many innocent people, which demonstrates once again ...ETA's...brutality, savageness and total lack of respect for people's lives,” Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy told reporters.

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