Madrid Remembers Train Bombing That Turned Election in 2004

King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy led mourners commemorating the 10th anniversary of the train bombings in Madrid that killed more than 190 people in Spain’s most lethal terrorist attack.

Queen Sofia, opposition leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba and the Mayor of Madrid Ana Botella were also among dignitaries that joined relatives of those killed in the attacks and survivors at a memorial mass at Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral. The Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, led the service after King Juan Carlos greeted representatives from victims’ associations at the entrance to the church.

“They died, they suffered and we suffer because there was someone, there were people, that with chilling premeditation were prepared to kill innocent people with the aim of achieving dark objectives of power,” said Cardinal Rouco in his homily.

The Almudena mass is the focus of commemorations of the atrocity in which North African immigrants linked to al-Qaeda detonated a series of bombs on rush-hour trains three days before general elections in 2004. Rajoy, who had been leading in opinion polls, was defeated by the Socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero after incumbent Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar’s attempts to blame the attack on Basque terror group ETA backfired with voters.

Aznar had made Spain a target for Islamist terrorists after backing the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Neither Aznar nor Zapatero were present at the service.

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