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Sunday, April 04, 2004

CNN: Madrid bombing ringleader 'dead'

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- The ringleader of the Madrid terror attack was among four suicide bombers who died Saturday in a police raid, Interior Minister Angel Acebes said Sunday.

Acebes said the four included a Tunisian named Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, described by Spanish authorities as the leader of the group suspected of carrying out the March 11 attacks that killed 191 people.

"The core of the group that carried out the attacks is either arrested or dead," Acebes told a news conference.

The blast gutted at least one floor of the building -- a square structure with a central courtyard where children had been playing soccer until they were evacuated.

The explosion sent up a huge plume of black smoke and revealed rooms littered with concrete and wires dangling from ceilings. Architects will now decide whether it is to demolished altogether because of structural damage.

Police had approached the building at around 7 p.m. to make arrests as part of an escalating manhunt for those responsible for the March 11 bombings.

The suspects spotted the police from a window and shot at them, shouting in Arabic, the Interior Ministry said. No police officers were hurt by the gunfire.

Over the next two hours, police evacuated as many people as they could from the building and surrounding area and prepared for an assault on the apartment.

As the terrorists shot at police from the apartment, "they shouted 'God is great' and Islamic verses," the newspaper El Mundo quoted a resident of the building as saying.
Now why on earth would the AP put 'dead' in quote marks? Isn't that weird?