2004 Madrid train bombings

2004 Madrid train bombings
Part of Terrorism in Spain and Islamic terrorism in Europe
Atentado 11M.jpg
Remains of one of the trains, near Atocha station
LocationMadrid, Spain
Date11 March 2004; 15 years ago (2004-03-11)
07:37 – 07:40 CET (UTC+01:00)
TargetMadrid commuter rail network, civilians
Attack type
Mass murder, time bombings, terrorism
WeaponsGoma-2 backpack bombs
Non-fatal injuries
MotiveIslamic extremism, Opposition to Spanish participation in the Iraq War

The 2004 Madrid train bombings (also known in Spain as 11-M) were nearly simultaneous, coordinated bombings against the Cercanías commuter train system of Madrid, Spain, on the morning of 11 March 2004 – three days before Spain's general elections. The explosions killed 193 people and injured around 2,000.[1][3] The bombings constituted the deadliest terrorist attack carried out in the history of Spain and the deadliest in Europe since the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.[4] The official investigation by the Spanish judiciary found that the attacks were directed by an al-Qaeda terrorist cell,[5][6] although no direct al-Qaeda participation has been established.[7][8][9] Although they had no role in the planning or implementation, the Spanish miners who sold the explosives to the terrorists were also arrested.[10][11][12]

Controversy regarding the handling and representation of the bombings by the government arose, with Spain's two main political parties—Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) and Partido Popular (PP)—accusing each other of concealing or distorting evidence for electoral reasons. The bombings occurred three days before general elections in which incumbent José María Aznar's PP was defeated.[13] Immediately after the bombing, leaders of the PP claimed evidence indicating the Basque separatist organization ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) was responsible for the bombings.[14][15] Islamist responsibility would have had the opposite political effect, as it would have been seen as a consequence of the PP government taking Spain into the Iraq War, a policy extremely unpopular among Spaniards.[16]

Following the attacks, there were nationwide demonstrations and protests demanding that the government "tell the truth".[17] The prevailing opinion of political analysts is that the Aznar administration lost the general elections as a result of the handling and representation of the terrorist attacks, rather than because of the bombings "per se".[18][19][20][21]

After 21 months of investigation, judge Juan del Olmo processed Moroccan national Jamal Zougam, among several others, for his participation carrying out the attack.[22] The September 2007 sentence established no known mastermind nor direct al-Qaeda link.[23][24][25][26][27]

Description of the bombings

Bombings map

During the peak of Madrid rush hour on the morning of Thursday, 11 March 2004, ten explosions occurred aboard four commuter trains (cercanías).[28] The date led to the popular abbreviation of the incident as "11-M". All the affected trains were traveling on the same line and in the same direction between Alcalá de Henares and the Atocha station in Madrid. It was later reported that thirteen improvised explosive devices (IEDs) had been placed on the trains. Bomb disposal teams (TEDAX) arriving at the scenes of the explosions detonated two of the remaining three IEDs in controlled explosions, but the third was not found until later in the evening, having been stored inadvertently with luggage taken from one of the trains. The following time-line of events comes from the judicial investigation.[29]

All four trains had departed the Alcalá de Henares station between 07:01 and 07:14. The explosions took place between 07:37 and 07:40, as described below (all timings given are in local time CET, UTC +1):

  • Atocha Station (train number 21431) – Three bombs exploded. Based on the video recording from the station security system, the first bomb exploded at 07:37, and two others exploded within 4 seconds of each other at 07:38.
  • El Pozo del Tío Raimundo Station (train number 21435) – At approximately 07:38, just as the train was starting to leave the station, two bombs exploded in different carriages.
  • Santa Eugenia Station (train number 21713) – One bomb exploded at approximately 07:38.
  • Calle Téllez (train number 17305), approximately 800 meters from Atocha Station – Four bombs exploded in different carriages of the train at approximately 07:39.

At 08:00, emergency relief workers began arriving at the scenes of the bombings. The police reported numerous victims and spoke of 50 wounded and several dead. By 08:30 the emergency ambulance service, SAMUR (Servicio de Asistencia Municipal de Urgencia y Rescate), had set up a field hospital at the Daoiz y Velarde sports facility. Bystanders and local residents helped relief workers, as hospitals were told to expect the arrival of many casualties. At 08:43, firefighters reported 15 dead at El Pozo. By 09:00, the police had confirmed the death of at least 30 people – 20 at El Pozo and about 10 in Santa Eugenia and Atocha. People combed the city's major hospitals in search of family members who they thought were aboard the trains.

Nationalities of the victims
Nationality[30] Victims
 Spain 143
 Romania 16
 Bulgaria 12
 Ecuador 7
 Peru 7
 Poland 4
 Colombia 2
 Dominican Republic 2
 Honduras 2
 Morocco 2
 Ukraine 2
 France 1
 Brazil 1
 Chile 1
 Cuba 1
 Philippines 1
 Senegal 1
 Guinea-Bissau 1
Total 193

The total number of victims was higher than in any other terrorist attack in Spain, far surpassing the 21 killed and 40 wounded from a 1987 bombing at a Hipercor chain supermarket in Barcelona. On that occasion, responsibility was claimed by ETA. It was Europe's worst terror attack since the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988.[4]

Other Languages
Bahasa Indonesia: Bom Madrid, 11 Maret 2004
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Napadi u Madridu 2004.