Funeral services are being held in Spain for many of the victims of Thursday's train bombings in Madrid that killed 200 people.
Ten bombs ripped through four packed commuter trains on Thursday, wounding nearly 1,500 people. (To &to=http://www1.newsteam.ru/reports/index.html?1,81,22' target=_blank>see photos of the terrorist attacks)
The identity of the perpetrators, which could influence how some people vote on Sunday, remains a mystery.
The Spanish government is sticking to its position that the Basque terrorist group ETA is behind the Madrid bombings. Interior Minister Angel Acebes went on national television last night to say the government believed ETA carried out the attacks on four commuter trains, even though the type of explosives that caused the blast hasn't been used by the group in more than a decade. At about the same time Acebes spoke, ETA issued a denial to Basque newspaper Gara. Some 11 million people, more than a quarter of Spain's population, took to rain-drenched streets in nationwide protests on Friday against "our September 11", the worst attack of its kind on Spanish soil.
Intel Brief -- ETA: Basque Homeland and Freedom
Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), a terrorist organization founded in 1959 and dedicated to promoting Basque independence. The group began its terrorist activities in 1968. ETA regularly targets Spanish government officials, members of the military and security forces, and moderate Basques for assassination. The group has carried out numerous bombings against Spanish government facilities and economic targets. In recent years, the Spanish government has had more success in controlling ETA due in part to increased security cooperation with French authorities. In early 1989, the Spanish government held a series of meetings in Algeria with ETA representatives in an attempt to reach an agreement ending the campaign of terrorism.
ETA has killed about 800 people in Spain since 1968. The ETA continue to operate in the south of France and occasionally bomb local government institutions, travel agencies, etc. Attacks against premises are often conducted with the help of local ultra-leftists
The ETA has been accused of working for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and there is good evidence to show a working relationship.They have also been unconfirmed links to other South American nations either as political activists, or working for government or rebel organizations carrying out terrorist attacks on their behalf.
Until now ETA attacks against public sites usually occur late in the evening, in an apparent attempt to minimize casualties. However, there have been a number of murders of Spanish government employees and Basque moderates. ETA occasionally stages attacks against Spanish state and business interests in Italy
ETA may also stage attacks against French business and state-related premises in protest at France's help to Spain in its efforts to counter ETA in the French and Spanish Basque countries.
OTHER: On Saturday 4 April the British newspaper the Guardian reported that all the leaders of the Basque separatist organization ETA had been captured in a police raid in France. While the claim that all leaders of the group were arrested seems highly unlikely, this may be part of the reason for renews violence and the new violence against the public.
ACTIVITIES IN 1996 The ETA has claimed responsibility for, and provided photographs of, a Spanish prison officer it kidnapped in January.
The group claimed responsibility for killing former Spanish Basque socialist leader Fernando Mugica in February.
On 14 February Jose Tomas y Valiente, Professor of Law at the Autonomous University in Madrid, who was shot dead by an armed gunman, believed to be a member of the Basque armed group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA).
They have also claimed responsibility for a grenade attack on the Civil Guard barracks in Urdax in June which caused damage but no injuries.
ACTIVITIES IN 1995 The following information is from the United States Department of State, in their report "1995 Patterns of Global Terrorism"
In 1995, Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorists conducted attacks on Spanish rail lines and stations, banks, police officers, and political figuresуincluding the assassination of the Partido Popular mayoral candidate in San Sebastian and the attempted assassination of the leading contender for the prime ministership. In addition, ETA targeted French interests in Spain in 1995. In February a suspected ETA bomb exploded at a French-owned bank.
Following a joint Spanish-French operation that thwarted a plot to assassinate King Juan Carlos while he vacationed in Majorca last August, suspected ETA members or supporters tossed molotov cocktails at a Citroen car dealership in Navarre, destroying five vehicles. In mid-December suspected ETA members detonated a car bomb in Madrid, one of the worst attacks in years that claimed at least six lives and wounded 15 others.
A group tied to al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attacks and ETA has denied it -- but neither statement has been confirmed to be genuine.
If Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda were to blame, it would be the network's first major strike in the West since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
If it were ETA, it would mean a major escalation in tactics for a group that has killed 850 people over 36 years and is listed as a terrorist group by the United States and European Union.
"Whether it was ETA or Al Qaeda doesn't affect the shared repudiation of terrorism, but it may have different political and electoral consequences," the left-leaning daily El Pais said in an editorial. Many analysts say any proven ETA involvement in the bombings would probably benefit the ruling party in Sunday's general election because of its tough anti-ETA stance.
But if the attack was the work of Muslim militants, it could be viewed as the consequence of Aznar's domestically unpopular backing of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.