Victims of Madrid train bombing remembered with silence and tears

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A year after the worst modern terrorist atrocity in Europe, Spain mourned the 192 victims of the Madrid bombings yesterday, in an anniversary marked by tears, raw memories and a five-minute silence observed across the country.

A year after the worst modern terrorist atrocity in Europe, Spain mourned the 192 victims of the Madrid bombings yesterday, in an anniversary marked by tears, raw memories and a five-minute silence observed across the country.

In a sombre ceremony the King and Queen of Spain, flanked by 12 heads of state and scores of national and international dignitaries, heard a lone cellist play Casals' lament "Birds' Song" in Madrid's Grove of the Departed, which was created in memory of those who died in the al-Qa'ida attack. When the monument was opened to the public later in the day, scores of mourners entered, many in tears.

Throughout the rest of Spain, trains and buses ground to a halt as the silence was observed. Mourners left candles and flowers outside Madrid's Atocha station. One note read: ""Today, after a year, we haven't forgotten you." More than 2,000 people were injured in the explosions. Some 650 churches in the Madrid area rang their bells for five minutes from 7:37am, the moment 10 bombs in rucksacks began detonating on four commuter trains heading for Atocha station at the peak of the morning rush hour.

One of Spain's senior Muslim clerics said al-Qa'ida had forsaken Islam in committing the atrocity. Mansur Escudero, the secretary general of the Islamic Commission of Spain said: "Any group that invokes Islam to justify terrorist attacks places itself outside Islam."

In Puerta del Sol, the lively hub of Europe's noisiest capital, people stopped to remember the moment. On Atocha's platform two, Irene Jara, 30, stood quietly. "I should have taken that train a year ago," she said. "My little girl was ill and I missed it. I broke my journey today to pray a while. I feel destroyed, it's been a terrible year."

Ms Jara said when trains started running again after the bombings, passengers carried flowers and wept as they travelled. "I've spoken to friends, but no one really wants to talk about it. I can't stop the pain, even though nothing happened to me." She looked at her watch as a train arrived, stepped into the commuter crush, and wiped a tear from her cheek.

Beatriz Garcia, 25, stood by a bunch of white carnations wedged behind platform two's fire extinguisher. "I missed my train by one minute, and there's not a day goes by without remembering. I just feel sad, sad."

Lorena Diez, studying environmental science at Alcala de Henares, where one train began its journey, said simply: "I remember a boy of 20 who died; that's my age, a person like me. It hits you directly. And it's like a pilgrimage passing through those stations: El Pozo, Santa Eugenia." Sixty-seven died in the explosion at El Pozo, five minutes up the line, Yesterday the underpass beneath the tracks was filled again with votive candles, bouquets and messages for lost loved ones.

Rafa Santos, 20, an economics student, shivered as he laid a note on the ground and anchored it with a candle. "It's to mourn my friend who died. There was a strike at the university that day, but Miguel took the train to pick up some notes. I still can't sleep at night."

Margarita Sanchez, 40, a Ecuadorean dental assistant who has lived in El Pozo for nine years, turned away in grief. "I was on the train, but in another carriage. I saw the bodies, and children wandering alone. The scar heals but the wound remains. I dream of bodies. It seemed like the end of the world. I'll never forget it in a thousand years." She bowed her head, while trains thundered overhead.

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