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Salute to atrocity victims

Scores of students held a silent protest to pay respect to the hundreds of people killed and injured in the terror attacks in Madrid.

About 150 young people, mostly Spanish, stood for several minutes with their heads bowed outside the Students' Union building at the University of Leicester on Friday, March 12.
They also made a collage of handprints as a poignant reminder of the victims of the ten explosions which ripped through packed commuter trains in the city on Wednesday, killing 198 and injuring 1,400. [Photo: students with collage]
Students with collage

The Basque terror group Eta has been blamed for the attack, but investigators are also following up a claim that al Qaida was at least partly responsible.

Law student Jose Diez, 24, from Madrid, helped organise the demonstration. His family was not injured in the attack.

He said: "It's a terrible situation. I received a call at 8.30am on Thursday from a friend in Leicester who was watching TV. I called my family in Spain.

"They went to the hospital to give blood.

"Everybody in Spain is shocked because 200 people died. People feel very angry about this. It's disgusting.'

Mr Diez said Leicester set a good example of how different cultures and religions could live together peacefully.

He said: "In Leicester, we have people of all nationalities and different cultures and it's a peaceful place. It's easy to live together without terrorism."

University of Leicester Law student Ines Queralt, 23, from Valencia, has a friend who lives in Madrid. She said she had not been able to contact him since the attack, and did not know if he had been injured.

She said: "Watching the news, I was crying and felt sad and powerless. It's unfair, and hard to understand. Why Madrid? Why all those people?

"I think al Qaida did it, but they couldn't have done it without the help of Eta."

Medical student Alex Sanchez, 20, is from Cadiz on the south coast. His best friend lives in Madrid, but was not injured.

He was pleased to see people of different nationalities join the protest: "This is about unity. Terrorism affects everyone."

Madrid lives under the constant threat of terror attacks by Eta.

Mr Sanchez said, however, that an attack on this scale was "not something we thought they were capable of doing", suggesting a larger terrorist organisation, such as al Qaida, could have been involved.

Madrid is holding three days of mourning for victims of the blasts, which have been condemned by Tony Blair as an attack on "the very principles of freedom and democracy".

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Last updated: 16 March 2004 11:00
Created by: Barbara Whiteman

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