Madrid 'mastermind' among dead terrorists
4 April 2004, MADRID - The suspected ringleader of the Madrid bombings blew himself up along with three other suspects during a police raid, Spain's interior minister said Sunday
4 April 2004
MADRID - The suspected ringleader of the Madrid bombings blew himself up along with three other suspects during a police raid, Spain's interior minister said Sunday
Angel Acebes said Serhane ben Abdelmajid Farkhet, alias "The Tunisian", died in an explosion in a Madrid suburb on Saturday night.
One special forces policeman was also killed and 11 others hurt, some seriously.
Outside the flats where the explosion took place, police found - and safely defused - a car packed with explosives.
Officers searching the building say they have found two backpacks full of explosives, in addition to dynamite and detonators found there on Saturday.
Earlier, police helicopters circled overhead to monitor the situation, while ambulances remained at the scene since the start of the operation on Saturday night.
Serhane ben Abdelmajid Farkhet was named last Thursday in international arrest warrants connected with the attacks.
Another of the dead suspects, Moroccan Abdennabi Kounjaa, was also among six suspects named in the arrest warrants, said Acebes, who is part of the outgoing Partido Popular government.
A third man - Asri Rifaat Anouar - was not on the list, the minister said.
A fourth suspect, who has not been identified, was wearing a belt of explosives, Acebes said.
Spain has already detained 15 suspects over the Madrid attacks, in which 191 people were killed and more than 1,400 people injured.
Speaking at a press conference Sunday, Acebes said: "The core of the group that carried out the attacks is either arrested or dead in yesterday's collective suicide, including the head of the operative commando."
Police found 200 detonators of the kind used in the Madrid attacks and in the unexploded bomb that was discovered on the high speed Madrid-Seville rail line Friday.
Police also removed 10kg of dynamite from the apartment.
Acebes added: "They were going to keep on attacking because some of the explosives were prepared, packed and connected to detonators."
But another two or possible three terrorists may have escaped before the blast, the minister said.
The suspects spotted the police as they prepared to enter the apartment in the town of Leganes, south-west of Madrid, and opened fire from the first floor window, while chanting in Arabic, officials and local residents said.
Acebes said the blast was set off by the suspects as police prepared to enter the apartment on Irene Fernandez street.
Police evacuated residents in the building and the surrounding area, and cordoned it off.
The blast sent a shower of shattered glass into the air and thick grey smoke billowed over the area.
Frightened residents crowded onto the nearby streets.
Neighbours said a group of North Africans had moved into the apartment about a month ago. They were rarely seen and the blinds were always drawn, the neighbours said.
Several families were put up in a hotel overnight because they could not return to their damaged homes.
Spain has provisionally charged 15 suspects in connection with the blasts.
Six of them have been charged with multiple counts of murder, and nine have been accused of collaborating with or belonging to a terrorist organisation.
Eleven of the detained 15 suspects are Moroccan.
The Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group is the main focus of police investigations.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news