11/03/2005

Spain pays tribute to Madrid train bombing victims

A day of mourning is being held in Spain to mark the first anniversary of the Madrid train bombings.

The series of ten explosions on the commuter trains killed 191 people and left thousands more injured. The attack was described as 'Spain's September 11' and was the worst terrorist attack to occur in Europe since the Lockerbie plane bombing.

Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia will mark the anniversary by opening a 'park of the absent' in the city, where trees have been planted in remembrance of those who died. A five-minute silence will also be observed at midday.

Other events taking place to mark the anniversary include a funeral mass at the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid and wreath-laying ceremony at Puerta del Sol square in the city.

However, there is still anger among some Spaniards over the bombing. Many survivors and victims' families had accused the country's political parties of using the tragedy to try to influence the outcome of the general election, which took place three days after the bombings.

Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and his Popular Party (PP) lost the election to the Socialists. The government had initially blamed Basque separatist group Eta for the bombings, which the group denied. However, it is now widely believed that terrorists with links to al-Qaeda were behind the attack. The PP reportedly still believes that Eta still had links to the attacks.

It has been reported that Spain's current Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said that there had been a failure to tackle an outbreak of Islamic extremism in the country before the bombings, which was believed to have been triggered by Spain's involvement in the war in Iraq.

(KMcA/SP)

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