MADRID, Spain (AP) _ After examining remains found in the charred wreckage of a car bomb explosion, police said Tuesday four suspected Basque separatists were killed in the blast.

Initial reports said three people _ two men and one woman _ died in Monday's explosion. But forensic evidence taken from the site showed there were four victims, all men, the Basque regional Interior Ministry said.

The car exploded in the sparsely populated Bolueta area of Bilbao shortly before 11 p.m. as it approached an intersection.

One Basque official who spoke on condition of anonymity said one of the victims may be Paxti Rementeria, reputed leader of the Vizcaya Commando, a violent unit of the separatist ETA group. There was no immediate comment from ETA.

Vizcaya is the Basque province of which Bilbao is the capital. Police found false identity papers with Rementeria's picture on them at the site of the explosion, the official said.

Bilbao Mayor Inaki Azuna said the people killed in the car were ETA ``terrorists'' and had probably targeted ``some citizen or a building.''

The Interior Ministry said four pistols were found at the site.

ETA, a Basque-language acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom, is suspected of killing some 800 people since it began a violent campaign in the late 1960s to carve an independent homeland out of Basque areas in northern Spain and southwest France.

In an acceleration of the violence, 17 attacks have been blamed on ETA since it ended a 14-month cease-fire in December, including nine attacks in July alone. Seven people had been killed before Monday's incident.

The recent spate of violence included the assassinations in July of a town councilor in the southern city of Malaga and a former senior government official in the Basque country.