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Spain Arrests Five in Train Bombings - 2004-03-14


Spanish authorities have arrested five people in connection with Thursday's train bombings in Madrid that killed 200 people.

Interior Minister Angel Acebes, speaking at a news conference in the capital Saturday, said that three Moroccans and two Indians have been taken into custody. He said two Spaniards of Hindu origin are also being questioned in the attack, but are not expected to be arrested.

The five suspects were arrested in connection with a mobile phone found in an explosives-packed bag on one of the trains. Investigators believe cell phones were used to detonate 10 bombs hidden in backpacks on four trains.

The arrests come amid opposition charges that the ruling party is withholding details of the investigation to influence national elections set for Sunday. More than two thousand protesters gathered outside Spain's ruling party headquarters, blaming the bombings on Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's support for the war in Iraq.

Spanish officials, citing election rules banning political rallies on the day before elections, have demanded an immediate end to the demonstrations.

Up until Saturday's arrests, the government had been saying the Basque separatist group ETA was the prime suspect in the attack. However, it had also said authorities were investigating the possibility that Islamic extremists were responsible.

ETA has denied responsibility for the attack, while an Islamic group affiliated with the al-Qaida terror network has claimed responsibility. Neither claim has been verified.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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