Madrid train bombing 10th anniversary

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Originally published on February 27, 2014

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March 11, 2014 marks the tenth anniversary of the Madrid train bombings, the worst terrorist attack in Europe since the Lockerbie bombing in 1988. Ten bombings inside commuter trains traveling to three different stations in the city centre killed a total of 191 people and injured more than 1,800.

On March 11 2004 at around 7:30 a.m, four packed commuter trains were approaching Atocha Renfe, El Pozo and Santa Eugenia stations. The first bombing occurred at 7:37 a.m. when a backpack exploded in train C-1/21431 as it was entering Atocha Renfe station.

A minute later, two more bombs exploded in the same train, in cars 4 and 5. A fourth bomb hidden in a backpack in Car 1 failed to detonate. The bomb was later detonated by the Spanish national police bomb squad TEDAX.

Meanwhile, train C-1/17305CA was also entering Atocha Renfe station. The train, coming from Alcala de Henares, was 500 metres away from the entrance to the station and about 800 metres from the platform when four more bombs were detonated, killing 108 people.

At 7:38 a.m. more explosions went off at El Pozo station, when two backpack bombs left in the upper floors of a cars 4 and 5 of double-decker train C-1/21435 were detonated. At the same, at Santa Eugenia station, a single explosion in train C-7/21713 killed 15 people.

Within a span of three minutes, of the 13 devices believed to have been placed by terrorists in the four commuter trains, 10 had exploded while three had failed to detonate.

A blue backpack was found on a platform at El Pozo station near the train between the second and the third cars and was brought to a police station. Inside the backpack police found a Spanish-made explosive, a detonator with a cell phone and a timer. The bomb was later detonated by TEDAX, while the cell phone opened up new lines of investigation.

Another suspicious device was also found in the train and later detonated by bomb squads.

The attack happened three days before the Spanish national elections. Many Spaniards blamed the attack on the pro-US administration in power at that time, saying it made the country a target for terrorists. The elections were eventually won by the opposition Socialist party.

Spain will honor the victims of the attack with a series of events including concerts and conferences in Madrid starting March 9.

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