| A boy is comforted during a funeral mass in Madrid for a relative who died in the bombings. (Reuters)
Madrid, March 13 (Reuters): Three Moroccans and two Indians were arrested in Madrid as part of the investigation into train bombings that killed 200 people, Spain’s interior minister Angel Acebes said today.
“Sixty hours after the brutal attack we now have five detentions,” the minister told a news conference. All the detentions were made “for presumed implication in the sale and falsification of the mobile phone and cards found in the bag that did not explode”, Acebes said.
He was referring to a phone found in a backpack with unexploded explosives on one of the trains targetted in Thursday’s attacks.
Also, two Spaniards of Indian origin were giving statements to police, he added.
“This is an open investigation which is only just starting. At the moment, there is a search going on in various buildings and homes.”
Acebes added: “It’s the beginning of the investigation, but it opens an important path to advance down... I give you this information with a lot of caution and prudence.”
Acebes said some of those arrested may have links to Moroccan militants, but it was too early to say for sure.
Earlier, Spain’s intelligence service said it is “99 per cent certain” Muslim not Basque militants perpetrated the train bombings that killed 200 people, a Spanish radio station reported today.
The report by private radio SER, whose owners have links to the Opposition Socialists, flew in the face of government assertions armed group ETA was the prime suspect in the attacks that have traumatised Spain and sent jitters round the world.
It fuelled grumbling from critics that Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar’s government might be focusing on the Basque group, rather than al Qaida, for internal political gain ahead of tomorrow’s election. Ministers angrily denied the charge.
“If (they think) it is al Qaida, nobody has told me,” interior minister Angel Acebes said, when asked if intelligence services were tending towards blaming Islamic militants for the blasts.
Finding the culprits for Thursday’s atrocity, which killed 200 people and wounded 1,500, has huge global security implications.
If it was al Qaida, it would be the first strike in the West since the September 11, 2001, attacks on America.
If it were ETA, it would be a major escalation for a group that has killed 850 people in Spain over 36 years and is listed as a terrorist group by the US and EU. It could also sway Spain’s general election, going ahead tomorrow as planned after three days of official mourning.