Susana Vera  /  Reuters
A crying woman is consoled during a rally in Madrid to show solidarity with the victims of the train bombings there.
updated 3/23/2004 12:26:18 PM ET 2004-03-23T17:26:18

Authorities lowered the death toll from the Madrid bombings to 190 from 202 on Tuesday, and news reports said Spanish police warned European intelligence services that some suspects in the attacks may have fled.

In lowering the toll from the March 11 commuter train attacks, Interior Ministry spokesman Ricardo Ibanez cited errors in identifying the bodies of victims.

Police and forensics experts discovered that body parts in 13 bags originally thought to belong to unidentified corpses were later determined to be those of people already included in the death toll or of survivors who lost limbs, Ibanez said.

Of the 190 dead, 47 were foreigners, the Madrid Health department said. Thirteen of the victims died in hospitals of their wounds.

The death toll of 190 put the Madrid attack behind that of the October 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia, which killed 202. Bali was the deadliest terrorist strike since the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States killed nearly 3,000 people.

The head of Madrid’s Forensic Institute, Carmen Baladia, also said there was no scientific evidence to confirm that any of the dead was a suicide bomber.

Manhunt widens
The daily El Mundo said Spanish intelligence officials Monday gave colleagues from Britain, France, Germany and Italy a list of people they believe may have carried out the attacks but suspect may have fled Spain.

Police plan to issue international arrest orders for the suspects soon, the daily ABC reported.

Suspicion over the bombings has focused on an alleged Morocco-based terrorist cell believed to have links to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network and on al-Qaida itself.

Early Tuesday, a judge filed charges against four more suspects, bringing to nine the number charged and jailed pending further investigation. Six of those are Moroccan.

Judge Juan del Olmo charged three Moroccans and a Spaniard with terrorism and mass killings for their alleged participation in the bombings. A fifth suspect, a Moroccan arrested with the others March 18, was released without charges.

The nine who have been charged denied involvement in the attacks. They are being held in solitary confinement without access to family or lawyers.

On Tuesday, one left the courtroom in tears and another said he learned of the attacks on the morning of March 11 while watching cartoons with his children at home, court officials said.

The charges stop short of a formal indictment, but suggest the court has strong evidence against them. They can remain jailed for two years while investigators gather more evidence.

Police arrested four others Monday, all believed to be of North African origin, but these have yet to appear before a judge.

Spaniard's role with explosives
Jose Emilio Suarez, a Spaniard accused of providing explosives for the attacks, was charged with 190 counts of murder, 1,430 counts of attempted murder, robbery and collaborating or belonging to a terrorist organization.

Court officials said the latter charge will be specified further as the investigation continues.

The judge has clamped a secrecy order on the investigation.

Suarez admitted having supplied the explosives and detonators but told the judge he did not know they were destined to be used in a terrorist attack, the daily El Mundo said.

ABC said he was paid $8,600 and a quantity of hashish for providing 242 pounds of dynamite and detonators.

Police were said to be investigating 50 mines in northern Spain to see if any had reported thefts.

Of the nine charged so far, five have been charged with mass murder and belonging to a terrorist group and four have been charged with collaborating.

Moroccan Abderrahim Zbakh, who cried as he left the courtroom, was charged with the same offenses as Suarez, except robbery, officials said.

Mohamed El Hadi Chedadi and Abdelouahid Berrak, also Moroccans, were charged with collaborating with or belonging to a terrorist organization.

Berrak said he knows lead suspect Jamal Zougam because they own a barber shop together. Berrak also said he was an acquaintance of Imad Yarkas, the accused leader of an alleged Spanish al-Qaida cell who was arrested in Madrid in November 2001.

News reports only identified one of the four arrested Monday — Moroccan Khaled Oulad Akcha, the brother of Farid Oulad Ali who was freed after questioning by the judge.

Oulad Akcha had been in prison on separate charges since 2001.

Zougam and two other Moroccans have also been jailed on multiple counts of murder, while two Indians have been jailed on charges of collaborating with a terrorist group.

Powell, others to attend service
A state funeral for the bombing victims will be held Wednesday at Madrid’s Almudena cathedral. Secretary of State Colin Powell, French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Britain’s Prince Charles and dozens of other dignitaries are expected.

As part of the security measures, police will put a cordon around the capital, controlling access and taking precautions for the arrivals and departures of dignitaries’ planes at Madrid’s airport and at the Torrejon de Ardoz military base, said spokesman Francisco Javier Ansuategui.

Acting Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has given Secretary of State for Security Ignacio Astarloa the authority to shoot down any threatening aircraft if all other attempts to stop it fail.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments