The death toll has risen to at least 190 after a series of bombs placed on rush
hour trains in Madrid Thursday. More than 1,200 are injured. The Spanish government
blamed Basque separatists for what is being called the worst terrorist attack
in its history. But there are other signs that suggest al-Qaida and its supporters
may be responsible.
Ambulances carry the dead and wounded from some of Madrid's busiest train
stations. As many as 10 bombs exploded in the city in what appear to be closely
coordinated terrorist attacks.
Addressing the nation, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar called it
mass murder, blaming the Basque separatist group ETA and vowing to track down
those responsible for what British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw calls a shocking,
"This is, without any question, at least the worst terrorist outrage, which
has taken place within Europe since the Lockerbie bombings at the end of the
1980s," he said.
Police later said they had found a van containing detonators along with an
Arabic language tape with verses from the Koran. And, an Arabic-language newspaper
in London says it has received a claim of responsibility from a Middle Eastern
group taking credit for the blast in the name of al-Qaida. All of this has
prompted Spanish authorities to now expand their investigation into groups
beyond Basque separatists.
Condemnation and condolences were quick from world leaders including President
Bush who telephoned King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Aznar to express his
deepest sympathies for the loss of life.
"I told him we weep with the families. We stand strong with the people of
Spain. I appreciate very much the Spanish government's fight against terror," he
Spain is a close American ally and part of the U.S.-led military coalition
that invaded Iraq last year, another indication, according to terrorism experts
like M.J. Gohel of the Asia Pacific Foundation, that Thursday's bombings could
be a counter attack to the U.S.-led war on terror.
"Spain has been a major partner in the war on terrorism," he said. "Spain
has also been involved in the war in Iraq as a major coalition partner. Spain
was very much a number two target on the list for al-Qaida."
The Spanish government has declared several days of mourning but says Sunday's
parliamentary elections will go ahead as scheduled.