MADRID, Spain — Police arrested five more people in the
Madrid train bombings as the death toll rose yesterday to 202,
making the blasts — along with the 2002 Bali nightclub blasts
— the worst terrorist strike since the Sept. 11 attacks in
the United States.
The arrests brought to 11 the total suspects in Spanish custody
and came as the country marked a week since the bombings that
shocked Europe, led to a stunning election defeat for the
government and roiled Madrid’s relations with the United
In Morocco, police also rounded up associates of Jamal Zougam, a
key suspect in the train bombings with alleged al-Qaida ties.
The death of a 22-year-old Peruvian woman increased the toll in
the attacks to 202 — the same number killed by bombings in
Bali, Indonesia, in October 2002. Nearly 3,000 people died in the
Sept. 11 attacks carried out by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida
The latest arrests added to suspicions Moroccan extremists
linked to Islamic terrorism were behind the Madrid bombings. At
least three of the five suspects arrested Wednesday and yesterday
are Moroccan nationals, according to a Moroccan official.
Spanish authorities sought to extend the detention of five other
suspects, including Zougam, who were arrested Saturday. Zougam and
the others — two Moroccans and two Indians — were being
questioned yesterday at a Madrid court by Judge Juan del Olmo.
Del Olmo’s options are to jail them pending further
investigation — which would suggest there is strong evidence
against them — free them on bail or with other restrictions,
or release them altogether.
The suspects can be held for two years without a formal
indictment while more evidence is gathered. This period can be
extended for two more years.
In Morocco, police were rounding up Zougam’s associates
for questioning, said a Moroccan official who spoke to The
Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Three of the new arrests occurred in or near Alcala de Henares,
a town 18 miles east of Madrid where three of the four bombed
trains originated, according to court officials in Madrid.
It’s also where police found a van with detonators and a
cassette tape with verses from the Quran hours after the
Another new suspect with Spanish citizenship was arrested in
Oviedo, in northern Spain, court officials said.
Police believe that suspect may have had a direct role in the
bombings and in the May 2003 suicide attacks that killed 33 people
and 12 bombers in Casablanca, Morocco, said radio station Cadena
There were few details about the fifth suspect, although the
news agency Efe said he was of North African origin.
Interior Minister Angel Acebes confirmed the
“investigation is advancing” but wouldn’t comment on
the latest arrests. “This is a time for caution,” he
said, announcing the government would release intelligence reports
about the attacks.