A year on, Spain grieves for Madrid bombing victims

11th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 March 2005, MADRID-Church bells tolled across Madrid as the Spanish people marked the first anniversary of the train bombings which killed 191 people in the country's worst ever terrorist attack.

11 March 2005

MADRID-Church bells tolled across Madrid as the Spanish people marked the first anniversary of the train bombings which killed 191 people in the country's worst ever terrorist attack.

Politicians and city authorities stood in quiet reflection as the bells of the city's 650 churches rang out, one by one, from 7:37 am -the exact time the first of 10 bombs exploded in attacks on four packed commuter trains a year ago.

The bells rang out for five minutes as the first rays of sunlight slanted over the rooftops of a city still in shock 12 months after the blasts, which left some 1,900 people injured, and have been blamed on mainly Moroccan Islamic extremists loyal to Al-Qaeda.

Dignatories, including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Spanish King Juan Carlos, will attend the opening of a park of remembrance in central Madrid where 192 cypress and olive trees will be planted in memory of the victims and a policeman who died in a raid on a suspect's flat in early April.

Early-morning commuters stoically maintained their usual routine as tens of thousands travelled into work on public transport, some with their heads buried in books but many devouring the morning paper.

"Spain will never forget the victims of March 11," was the underlying message in those papers, encapsulated by El Periodico, while El Pais published a 24-page supplement showing a railway line caught in glinting sunlight.

"The open wound," read the simple caption alongside, while on the back page the daily listed the "191 lives broken" when the bombers carried out Europe's worst terror attack since the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie.

"Silence and pain," was the Spanish business daily Expansion's  stark headline, while Cinco Dias opted for "The memory of pain."

Many of the victims' relatives were set to boycott official celebrations to mourn their loss in private.

The number of casualties would have been far higher had the explosives, packed into rucksacks, gone off seconds later than they did, when two of the 'trains of death' were due to arrive at a packed central subway interchange.

The blasts went off within three minutes of each other at three stations beginning at 7:37 am.

The trains left from Alcala de Henares, a small historical town just east of Madrid and the birthplace of author Miguel de Cervantes.

After a five-minute silence to be observed at midday, the Cant dells ocells (the chant of birds) of cellist Pablo Casals will be performed before dignatories including the King Juan Carlos, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Moroccan King Mohamed VI and the UN secretary general.

At 8:00 pm a funeral mass will be held at Madrid's Almudena Cathedral.

Many of those who survived are still struggling with the physical and psychological consequences, and there remains much rancour among survivors and families of victims, who were disgusted that party politicking dominated the months-long investigation into the blasts.

Pilar Manjon, head of the victims' association, told El Periodio in an interview published on Friday that Spain in her view "lacks the political will for the truth to flourish."

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

0 Comments To This Article