Spain rail blasts: 186 dead
Spain rail blasts: 186 dead
Thursday, March 11, 2004 Posted: 11:19 AM EST (1619 GMT)
MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A series of co-ordinated bomb attacks on Madrid's commuter train system killed at least 186 people and wounded over 1,000 at the height of the city's rush hour, Spanish authorities tell CNN.
Spanish officials are blaming terrorists from the Basque separatist group ETA for the attack, but so far, there has been no claim of responsibility.
In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar took a firm stand against terror and terrorists, saying "there is no possible negotiation with these killers."
The Spanish Ambassador to the U.S., Javier Ruperez, said the incident was "in a way" Spain's September 11, referring to the terror attacks in the U.S. in 2001.
An official from Spain's northern Basque region called it the worst terrorist attack in Spanish history.
ETA, which has been designated a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, is blamed for and has claimed responsibility for attacks that have killed 800 people over the years.
U.S. President George W. Bush called Aznar Thursday morning to express "solidarity with the people of Spain at this difficult moment," a National Security Council spokesman said.
The attacks took place at the height of Thursday's rush hour when three separate trains were hit by near-simultaneous explosions before 8 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) along the southern part of Madrid's train network, officials said.
Interior Minister Angel Acebes said there were a total of 10 explosions at the Santa Eugenia, El Pozo and Atocha stations, and three other bombs found and detonated by police.
The most deadly blast happened on a train entering Madrid's main Atocha station, according to Acebes.
Security forces found other bombs, and detonated them in controlled explosions, he added.
Survivors described scenes of chaos and panic in the Spanish capital.
"The worst was people screaming for help inside the train and there was nothing we could do," one survivor told CNN's Spanish sister network, CNN+.
People in tears walked away from the city's main Atocha station in droves as rescue workers carried bodies away from the scene.
Many people with bloodied faces sat on curbs, using mobile phones to tell loved ones they were alive.
The attack comes ahead of Sunday's general election in which Spain's conservative ruling Popular Party -- which has taken a hard-line stance against ETA -- is currently leading in the polls.
After the blasts, all political parties announced they were suspending campaign rallies ahead of Sunday's election, but there has been no word that elections would be suspended.
The government called for a three-day period of mourning and impromptu anti-ETA demonstrations have broken out in Madrid and other Spanish cities.
Spanish police -- who have foiled several recent bombing attempts by ETA -- were on high alert for terror attacks by the separatist group ahead of Sunday's vote.
Video of the scene showed the train at Atocha broken into pieces by the force of the explosions.
Medical staff set up a field hospital to treat the wounded at the scene, and buses were mobilized to help ambulances transport the wounded to hospitals.
Shortly after the blasts, Basque leader Juan Jose Ibarretxe held a news conference from the Basque capital of Vitoria, condemning the violence and calling for demonstrations against ETA.
Basque member of Parliament Gustavo Aristegui -- who was in Madrid at the time of the attack -- also blamed ETA for the attack.
"This is probably Spain's worst terrorist attack in history -- not probably, surely our worst terrorist attack ever," Aristegui told CNN. "There are people that are real monsters that are trying to blackmail the whole society through acts of terror."
In an interview on Radio Popular in the Basque country, Arnaldo Otegi, leader of banned radical political party Batasuna, said he did not believe ETA was responsible for the attacks.
The attacks, he said, could have been "an operation by sectors of the Arab resistance."
But Acebes said Otegi was simply trying to confuse the situation.
ETA has been fighting for an independent homeland in northern Spain.
The attacks drew an immediate condemnation throughout Europe.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called it "a disgusting assault on the very principle of European democracy."
Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio placed the blame squarely on ETA, saying "we knew they are preparing a very big terror attack."
"ETA has a very clear pattern in its activities and we unfortunately have a long experience in dealing with them," she said.
On February 29, Spanish police seized more than 1,000 pounds of explosives and arrested two suspected ETA members who were planning to carry out an imminent attack in Madrid, an official said.
My deepest condolences to the families & friends of the victims. F*ck terorrism. Violence is not, and never the answer. Let's all pray they rot in hell!!!
Not only in Seville that people are holding their hands up, calling an end to all kind of terorrism. I'm rasing mine too.
Nothing but thumbs up for those who has donated their blood for the victims.
Before I or you forget, I’d like to remind you guys that no political discussions is allowed. This thread is just to commemorate the victims of the sadistic act of various foolish sons of b!tches. I’m really sad now.
My condolences go out to the families of those who have died in this unfortunate terrorist incident. RIP to the departed ones.
MAI STATI IN B
Condolences to the wounded and dead people of the horrible and tragic terrorist attack. Unfortunately we live in an age of terror...
what Horrible news!
Originally Posted by Fitzy
Horrible. My condolences to all the families and friends of the deceised.
Forza Inter per sempre!!!!
Jose responding after the derby:"We could only have lost by having six people on the park, as even with seven, we would have won. "
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