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Last Updated: Friday, 11 March 2005, 18:58 GMT
Madrid remembers train bombings
People stand in silence in Madrid on the first anniversary of the train bombings
Thousands of people marked the anniversary in silence
Spain has been marking the first anniversary of the Madrid train bombings in which 191 were killed.

Bells from Madrid's 650 churches tolled for five minutes from 0737 (0637 GMT) when the first of 10 co-ordinated blasts hit commuter-packed trains.

A five-minute silence was held at midday before the opening of Madrid's Park of the Absent, where trees have been planted to remember the victims.

But some survivors boycotted events, complaining of political interference.

The bombings have been firmly attributed to Islamic extremists by Spain's public prosecutor.


A Moroccan cell with links to al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack, and most of those arrested have been Moroccan citizens.

More than 100 people have been detained and 22 of them remain in prison awaiting trial.

Spain's leading Islamic body marked the anniversary by issuing a "fatwa" declaring al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden to have forsaken the religion.

"We declare... that Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation... are outside the parameters of Islam," the Islamic Commission of Spain said.

Recriminations

At midday on Friday, trains made unscheduled stops at stations and people stopped in the street.

I do not mind at all relinquishing a few freedoms for extra security
Marc Woodhall, Burton upon Trent, England

At the railway stations targeted in the country's worst-ever attack, people wept as memories of the blasts returned.

"Who will give me back my will to live which died here a year ago?" read a letter posted by Susana, a woman who said she was injured in the blasts at El Pozo station - where the deadliest of the four attacks occurred.

After the five-minute silence, a lone cellist played the Song of the Birds by Pablo Casals, before dignitaries including King Juan Carlos, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Morocco's King Mohamed VI and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

A year after 10 bombs exploded on four trains on the morning of 11 March, political recriminations continue.

A wrecked train carriage from the Madrid blasts
Who will give me back my will to live?
Susana

The explosions came three days before a general election, in which the Socialists ousted the right-wing Popular Party (PP) of then Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.

The government initially blamed armed Basque separatists Eta for the attacks, an error which is widely believed to have contributed to the Popular Party's unexpected defeat.

The PP is still convinced there could be a further link to Eta - and this has led to rancorous disagreement with the governing Socialists.

The Association of Madrid Bombing Victims said it would boycott all the events, protesting that the pain of victims and relatives had been used as a political football.


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See footage from the memorial services in Madrid



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