Ten years after Madrid train bombs, Spain says it's still a target

Rescue workers evacuate the body of a victim following a terror bombing on a train at the Atocha railway station in Madrid on March 11, 2004. A decade after Al Qaeda-inspired bombers blew apart four Madrid commuter trains, killing 191 people, Sp
Rescue workers evacuate the body of a victim following a terror bombing on a train at the Atocha railway station in Madrid on March 11, 2004. A decade after Al Qaeda-inspired bombers blew apart four Madrid commuter trains, killing 191 people, Spain's government warned the country remains a target and paid homage to hundreds of the victims. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (AFP) - A decade after Al Qaeda-inspired bombers blew apart four Madrid commuter trains, killing 191 people, Spain's government warned the country remains a target and paid homage to hundreds of the victims.

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of Spain's worst terrorist attack, Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said Islamist extremists were still a threat.

Qaeda-linked groups referred frequently in their statements to "Al Andalus", or Spain, the minister told Onda Cero radio. "We are not the only ones, but we are in their sights," Fernandez Diaz said.

The Spanish counter-terrorist service's level of alert has remained at "a likely risk of attack" since the March 11, 2004 attack.

Since that day, some 472 suspected Islamic extremists had been arrested, the minister said.

In addition to the intelligence service, some 1,800 Spanish police and counter-terrorist security forces were devoted to confronting the threat, he said.

Fernandez Diaz later presided over a ceremony in Madrid to present civilian awards to 365 of those affected by the attacks.

Spanish courts sentenced 18 people for the shrapnel-filled bomb attack that killed 191 people and injured more than 1,800 on four commuter trains heading for Madrid's Atocha station.

The seven chief suspects committed suicide on April 3, 2004 by blowing themselves up in an apartment near Madrid, also killing a policeman.