Railway bombers: Withdraw Spanish troops or 'blood will flow like rivers'

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The Independent Online
The group that claimed responsibility for the Madrid trains bombings has sent a fax threatening more attacks that will "make blood flow like rivers in Spain". Al-Qa'ida's European wing, Ansar al-Qa'ida, demanded Spain withdraw its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and stopped supporting the United States and its allies.</p>"If these demands are not met," the fax said, "we will declare war on you and we swear on ... Allah that we will convert your country in an inferno and we will make your blood flow like rivers." It said it had showed its force with the "blessed attacks of 11 March" and the planting of a bomb along the high-speed railway line linking Madrid and Seville last week which failed to explode.</p>The fax, sent to the ABC</i> newspaper on Saturday night, gave Spain until midday on Sunday to comply. ABC</i> said the letter was handwritten in Arabic and signed "Abu Dujana Al Afgani, Ansar Group, Al-Qaida in Europe". A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said: "In principle, the letter is given certain credibility, although the analysis is not yet complete. We believe it could have been sent by people directly involved in recent events."</p>The incoming Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has already pledged to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq by June, but has promised to strengthen the Spanish contingent in Afghanistan. After a weekend siege in the Madrid suburb of Leganes in which some of the suspected train bombers blew themselves up, several of their accomplices remain at large.</p>Police are still searching for Mohammed Oulad and his brother Rachid and for Said Berraj. Judge Juan del Olmo added three more names to the search and capture warrant: Amer el-Aziz, Sanel Sjekirica and Rabei Osman Ahmed. </p>"There could have been a series of Holy Week bombings, probably starting this weekend," a source close to the investigation said. Police said they arrested one more man on Saturday in connection with the 11 March bombings, bringing the total in custody to 16.</p>The Mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said that he would deploy police officers to assist the private security guards patrolling the city's metro lines. "Guaranteeing the safety of public transport is an absolute priority right now," the mayor said. </p>Spain's Interior Ministry said police believed there were five people in the flat at Leganes when it exploded. The forensics team last night found evidence of a sixth person. The leading suspects in the bombing, Sarhane ben Abdelmajid Fahket, a Tunisian, Jamal Ahmidan and Abdennabi Kounjaa, from Morocco, and Asri Rifat Anoua were killed in the blast.</p>"The core of the group that carried out the [11 March] attacks is either arrested or dead in yesterday's collective suicide, including the head of the operative commando unit," Mr Acebes said.</p>Forensic scientists were continuing to examine body parts in an attempt to to confirm the identities of the other two. The process was said to be difficult because of the severe mutilations. The Interior Ministry confirmed that the explosion involved between 15 and 20kg of plastic explosives. The police forensic science team checking the building had to evacuate the premises twice yesterday after officers discovered new caches of explosives. </p>Spaniards observed five minutes of silence at midday yesterday to honour the special police agent who was killed in the blast. A peace demonstration was due to be held in Madrid last night.</p>