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Three Bombing Suspects, Police Officer Die In Madrid Blast - 2004-04-03

Three suspects in the deadly Madrid train bombings have blown themselves up, killing one policeman and injuring several officers. The suspects were cornered as part of the ongoing investigations into the March 11 train bombings.

Late Saturday evening in the southern Madrid suburb of Leganés police cordoned off an apartment building where they had cornered three Islamic terrorist suspects.

Spain's acting Interior Minister Angel Acebes subsequently explained that as a result of the ongoing investigations into the March 11 commuter train bombings special police agents had surrounded an apartment where suspected Islamic extremists were in hiding.

Mr. Acebes said that when the suspects became aware of the police surveillance, they began to fire guns while shouting and chanting verses in Arabic. As the police began an assault on the apartment, the Minister of Interior said the suspects set off a bomb, killing themselves and a police agent as well as wounding 11 other agents.

Mr. Acebes added that the bodies of the three suspects had been found but did not rule out the possibility of someone else dying with them due to the force of the blast which ripped the street-side walls off two floors of the apartment house. He also said that police believed some of the suspects were among those being sought by security officials for having taken part in the March 11 terrorist attacks.

Authorities have arrested and questioned at least 24 people in connection to terrorist attacks in Madrid. Of those, 15 have been jailed. Eleven of them are of Moroccan origin. Six have been accused of mass murder and nine of collaborating with a terrorist organization.

Mr. Acebes had previously reported that the Moroccan Islamic Combatant group, linked to al-Qaida, was believed to have organized the train bombings. Earlier Saturday he gave a briefing on the discovery Friday of a bomb placed on the tracks of the high-speed train between Madrid and Seville which had been deactivated by police.