Madrid has been marking the 18th anniversary of the Atocha train bombings – the biggest terrorist attack that Spain had seen since the Civil War.
The Madrid regional premier, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, and the mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, led a laurel wreath-laying ceremony in front of the commemorative plaque at the Real Casa de Correos on Friday 11th March, along with other political and civil representatives.
The political leaders were joined by The president of the Victims of Terrorism Association, Mayte Araluce; the president of the 11M Victim Association, Dori Majali; the president of the Victims of Terrorism Foundation, Tomás Caballero; and the president of the 11-M Association Affected by Terrorism, Eulogio Paz.
The 2004 Madrid train bombings were a coordinated near-simultaneous attack, by the Islamist militant group, al-Qaeda, targeting commuter trains in Madrid on the morning of March 11th.
10 bombs exploded on four trains in and around Atocha Station leaving 191 dead and 1,852 injured.
The suicide jihadist commando blew up backpacks loaded with explosives at different points on the Cercanías ( commuter) C2 line, which connects Alcalá de Henares with Atocha and which were detonated at the three stations of the route – Santa Eugenia, El Pozo and Atocha.
In the following days an estimated 11 million Spaniards, including some 2.3 million in Madrid alone, took to the streets to demonstrate against terrorism.
In a police raid in the immediate aftermath to capture the attackers, an officer was killed and several militants blew themselves up.
The attacks took place just days away from the general election and is believed to have had a major impact on the result.
The opposition Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero won the election.
In October 2007, 18 Islamic fundamentalists of mainly North African origin including three with Spanish nationality, were convicted of the bombings.
In 2007 King Juan Carlos and the Prime Minister, opened the memorial to the victims at Atocha.
The structure consists of an 11 metre high (36 ft) cylinder, which is illuminated at night, filled with texts and messages of hundreds of expressions of grief sent in the days after the attack from all over the world.
This year has also seen the release of a Netflix documentary series Terror in Madrid, where “survivors and insiders recount March 11, 2004’s terrorist attack on Madrid, including the political crisis it ignited and the hunt for the perpetrators.”