Spain mourns Madrid bomb victims

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, has led homage to the victims of the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings in a quiet ceremony.

    Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero (C) led the ceremony

    On a sunny spring Saturday, two school children - an Algerian girl and  a Spanish boy - opened the short commemoration ceremony at midday by  placing a floral wreath in Madrid's Retiro park in memory of the 191 victims of the bombings.
    A rendition of Catalan composer Pau Casals' "el cants dels  ocelles" ("birdsong") by the young Spanish violinist Blanca Coines  was followed by a five minute silence.
    As in 2005, the ceremony was held in the garden comprising 191 olive and cypress trees, planted to commemorate the victims of the attack exactly two years ago.
    But the quiet memorial was in contrast to the national mourning  observed in 2005, when King Juan Carlos was joined by United Nations  Secretary General Kofi Annan, the King of Morocco and around 20  heads of state in Madrid to take part in a conference on democracy  and terrorism.
    Morrocan delegation

    Relatives of victims mourn the
    191 innocent killed in the attacks 

    Earlier on Saturday, a delegation from Morocco, believed to be where most of the bombing suspects are from, lit candles and placed flowers at Madrid's Atocha station, which bore the brunt of the  explosions.
    An official silence of several minutes was observed in Madrid  and at the suburban stations of El Pozo and Santa Eugenia, which  were also hit by the bombings.
    On Saturday night, an ecumenical ceremony was due to be held in  memory of the Spanish, Romanian, Latin American, Moroccan and Polish  students and workers killed in the attacks, closing the  commemorations at the Atocha station.
    As in 2005, groups representing the victims of the 11 March attacks kept a low profile, holding only small private gatherings.

    Victims commemoration

    But the Foundation for the Victims of Terrorism, mainly made up of victims of ETA, the Basques separatist organisation, on Friday night held a concert by the London Philharmonic Orchestra attended by members of the Spanish royal family and Zapatero.

    The concert was held in memory of the victims of both the Madrid attacks and the 7 July London bombings, which killed 56 people, four of them suicide bombers.
    Meanwhile, Judge Juan del Olmo is preparing to conclude his investigation  into the bombings. According to court sources, he is expected to charge and send to trial between 30 and 40 of the 116 suspects.
    The blasts killed 191 people and injured some 1900 others in  the country's worst ever terrorist attack. Islamic extremists sympathetic to al-Qaida claimed responsibility for planting the 10 bombs on four trains in an apparent revenge attack for Spanish participation in the US-led invasion of Iraq.



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