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Terrorism

Spain remembers victims of Madrid train bombings

Spain has held a series of events to mark the 10th anniversary of the Madrid train bombings, which left 191 people dead. Both the country's king and prime minister were present to hear tributes paid to those killed.

King Juan Carlos (pictured, center) and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy joined families of victims of the bombings for a 10th anniversary mass on Tuesday at Madrid's Almudena Cathedral.

The solemn ceremony was held to mark the attack in which al Qaeda-inspired bombers blew up four packed commuter trains.

Madrid archbishop Antonio Rouco Valera recalled a "wave of solidarity and generosity" among Spaniards in the days that followed the violence. Love had won over hate, Rouco Valera added.

"They died and suffered, and we suffer, because there were some who, with blood-curdling premeditation, were willing to kill innocent people," he said.

'Every day the pain is greater'

Relatives of the dead later hung garlands of daisies in the city's Retiro Park, released 191 white balloons, one for each of those killed. About 2,000 passengers were wounded.

"That day lies branded in all our hearts," said Angeles Pedraza, leader of the Association for Victims of Terrorism, whose daughter Miriam was among the dead. "Every day the pain is greater... every year is harder because of this eternal pain, which I know will stay with us for the rest of our lives."

The roughly synchronized, shrapnel-filled bombs exploded at 7.40 a.m. on March 11, 2004, on trains headed to Madrid's main station, Atocha.

Separate memorial ceremonies were held at Atocha itself, as well as the El Pozo and Santa Eugenia train stations.

Spanish courts sentenced 18 people for the bomb attacks, with two of those convicted receiving jail terms of 43,000 years each. The bombings triggered political division that lasts until this day, with different theories about the source of the attack.

Voters punished then-Prime Minister Jose Marie Aznar in an election scheduled days after the attacks. Aznar was criticized for initially blaming the bombings on Basque separatist group ETA, with Socialist Jose Luis Zapatero coming to power in his place.

rc/se (AFP, AP, dpa)

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