Madrid train bombs

Posted by Simon Pavitt on Apr 02, 2006

On 11 March 2004, just before the Spanish general election, bombs exploded on 4 trains as they entered Madrid killing 200 people.

The Government hurredly put the blame on ETA, an organisation fighting for Basque independance from Spain. But many people assumed the bombs were a consequence of Spain's support for the war in Iraq and started gathering in the centre of Madrid.

News of the protests spread by mobile phone and more and more people joined, accusing the government of managing the release of information about the attacks to their own political ends. The national newspaper El Pais referred to "the more than dubious attitude of the government in relation to the lines of investigation". Eventually the Government was forced to admit that the explosions might have been caused Al-Qaeda.

In the election a couple of days later the ruling Partido Popular, which had been ahead in the polls, surprisingly lost to the socialist PSOE. As one person put it:

"People are very angry, united and sad - and think these attacks could have been avoided. At first I hoped it really had been ETA and not an Islamic group. But this has been a catastrophe. People feel deceived by the government. [Prime Minister] Aznar has put people in danger. People never wanted to get involved in this war."

Within a couple of months Spainish troops were removed from Iraq.

As a footnote ETA subsequently called a ceasefire in March 2006, partly as a result of the public outrage following the bombings.

Reference: BBC News website

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