Al-Qaeda Behind Madrid Train Bombings, Says Spainish Minister Email this page
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Madrid, Mar. 14 (NNN): The Al-Qaeda terror network has allegedly claimed responsibility for the deadly Madrid train bombings that killed over 200 people.
Spain's interior minister Angel Acebes said police had recovered a videotape in which a man identifying himself as al-Qaeda's military spokesman in Europe makes the claim.

In the video, a man speaking Arabic with a Moroccan accent says the attacks were revenge for Spain's "collaboration with the criminals Bush and his allies", the government said.

The Spanish government backed the US-led invasion of Iraq last year despite widespread popular uncertainty about the war.

The minister said the authenticity of the videotape had not been verified. But it has spurred anger among some Spaniards, who go to the polls for a general election on Sunday.

Police found the video following an anonymous tip-off to a Madrid television station.

Earlier on Saturday, Spanish authorities arrested five suspects in connection with the blasts.

The developments came as the first funerals for the victims of the bombings took place in the capital and across Spain.

Acebes had earlier told a news conference three Moroccans and two Spaniards of Indian descent were being held. The suspects may have links with extremist Moroccan groups, the minister said, but it was still too early to confirm this.

The five suspects were arrested in different parts of the capital, and were handed to the country's High Court, which is in charge of investigating the attacks, the minister said.

Acebes said the men were believed to be linked with the sale and falsification of a mobile phone and SIM card found by police near one of the bomb blasts on Thursday. The phone was inside a bag containing one of the bombs which failed to explode.

Acebes assured the Spanish public that all lines of investigation were still open and he reminded Spaniards it had only just begun. But he promised he would continue to make public every new piece of information.

Protesters had already been holding angry demonstrations outside the office of Spain's ruling Popular Party as Acebes announced the arrests. The demonstrators charge that the government downplayed the theory that it might have been al-Qaeda. They say the government is scared of losing votes in Sunday's general election because of its unpopular decision to support the invasion of Iraq.

The first funeral masses took place in the capital and other cities on Saturday. Thousands of people turned up at cemeteries, funeral homes and religious services to mourn those killed.

In Alcala de Henares, the commuter town east of Madrid where the bombed trains had started their journeys, up to 1,000 people crammed into a gymnasium to remember some 30 local people killed.

On Friday evening up to 11 million people nationwide turned out in heavy rain to protest against the violence.

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