Spain marks 10th anniversary of Madrid train bombings

650 church bells rung, royal family attends mass

11 March, 20:01

    (by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) - MADRID, MARCH 11 - Some 650 church bells rung out across Spain on Tuesday morning at exactly 7:37 AM, when bombs had gone off ten years ago in Madrid's Atocha train station. The attack was the largest one by terrorists in the country since WWII, killed the most people of any one in Europe in recent years, and has been attributed to Al-Qaeda. Ten years after the bombings, which killed 191 and injured about 2,000, Spain commemorated the tragedy with a State ceremony in the Almudena cathedral in the presence of victims' associations.

    Three days after the attacks, the conservative government under Mariano Rajoy suffered a surprise defeat, leading to the withdrawal of the country's troops from Iraq under the new premier, the socialist José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

    ''Love triumphed over hate, life over death on the day of the attack,'' said Archbishop of Madrid, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela during the mass held in honor of the victims. ''We do not known what the plans and final intentions of those who planned and carried out the attacks were, but they will not be able to cancel out the fruits of a new humanity,'' he continued in the presence of the royal family, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and other authorities and institutional representatives. At 7.37 on March 11, 2004, ten backpacks with bombs activated by mobile phones exploded on four regional trains in the Atocha, El Pozo, and Santa Eugenia stations and near Calle Tellez, killing workers and students at rush hour. On the clinical history of Laura Vega - 36 years old and the only one still in a coma since that tragic morning - in the hospital of the San José Institute Foundation, one can read ''she will never wake up again''. The victims include 54 foreigners from 17 countries. ''For us, time stopped that day. Every day is March 11 - tough days, birthdays, Christmas, holidays... everything that could have been and wasn't,'' said Juan Benito, father of Rodolfo, who was 27 when killed in the attacks. José Maria Aznar's government blamed the Basque separatist group ETA for the bombings, a hypothesis refuted a few hours later when a video was found calling for jihad in response to Spanish troops' participation in the war in Iraq. In those hours four of the attackers, holed up in a hideout in Leganes (Madrid) and surrounded by special forces units, committed suicide. Javier Gomez Bermudez, the head of the court that condemned 19 of the 29 accused of involvement in the attacks, said in an interview with the radio station Cadena Sur on Tuesday that he was ''certain they were inspired by Al-Qaeda'' or a direct operation by the international terrorist group.

    In the newspaper El Pais, the expert on terrorism issues Fernando Reinares said that the attacks were planned in the Pakistani city of Karachi as revenge for the dismantlement of an Al-Qaeda cell in 2002 in Spain. (ANSAmed).

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