Spain says bombing leader dead

Body of Tunisian accused in train attacks identified

April 05, 2004|By Cristina Mateo-Yanguas and Tracy Wilkinson | Cristina Mateo-Yanguas and Tracy Wilkinson,LOS ANGELES TIMES

LEGANES, Spain -- Authorities identified yesterday the alleged ringleader behind last month's railway bombings from among several suspects who blew themselves up a day earlier to avoid capture. But they later added three names to the list of Islamic radicals wanted in connection with the attacks.

Spaniards remained jittery, especially in the suburb where the ruins of an apartment building bore testament to Saturday night's explosion. Four or five suspects in the March 11 commuter train bombings killed themselves and a police officer as commandos closed in. Yesterday, large crowds jostled behind police lines to view the site.

Evidence from the bombing scene, including charges and detonators, tied the dead suspects to two bombings in the past three weeks, authorities said, and suggested that they were all part of the same sustained campaign.

Among the three additional suspects named last night was Amer Azizi, a Moroccan whom Spanish investigators and al-Qaida prisoners have previously tied to the planning of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But it was not clear what, if any, direct role he is alleged to have had in the Madrid bombings that killed 191 and wounded hundreds more.

Officials were relieved at having made progress in dismantling the terrorist cell but remained alarmed at the ability of Islamic radicals to operate in Spain.

Authorities said yesterday that they had identified the remains of the alleged ringleader, Tunisian national Serhane Abdelmajid Farkhet, 35. His body was among those of at least four suspected militants who opened fire and then detonated a bomb late Saturday as police raided their apartment building.

A Spanish judge issued an international arrest warrant last week for Farkhet and five Moroccans for their alleged roles in the Madrid bombings. Another 15 people, most of them Moroccan, have been arrested and charged.

Another suspect for whom arrest warrants were issued, Kounjaa Abdennabi, was among those who died in the apartment building explosion, officials said. A third man was identified but was not on the arrest list. The fourth had not been identified, and there were reports that body parts belonging to a fifth person were found yesterday in the debris.

One special forces police officer was killed in the blast, and 15 others were wounded.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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