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Spain announces 5 men arrested in relation to Madrid bombing

By The Agencies

Spain's Interior Minister Angel Acebes said on Saturday that three Moroccans and two Indians had been arrested in Madrid as part of the investigation into train bombings that killed 200 people three days ago.

Also, two Spaniards of Indian origin were giving statements to police, Acebes said at a news conference.

The detentions are in connection with a cell phone found inside an explosives-packed gym bag found on one of the bombed commuter trains.

The five suspects "could be related to Moroccan extremist groups," the minister said. "But we should not rule out anything. Police are still investigating all avenues. This opens an important avenue."

A Spanish privately-owned radio station reported ealier on Saturday that the national intelligence service is "99 percent certain" that radical Muslims and not the Basque separatist group ETA are responsible for the terror attack.

Radio SER, whose owners have links to the opposition Socialist Party, said the National Intelligence Center (CNI( believes the evidence points to an Islamic group, and that 10 to 15 people left bombs on the trains and fled, the radio said.

"The evidence has wiped out previous indications that led us to believe in ETA," the radio quoted one of its sources as saying.

Who was responsible is seen by political analysts as an important question ahead of Sunday's general election.

Interior Minister Angel Acebes told a press conference: "If it [is believed to be] Al- Qaida, no authorities from the state security forces have told me." A Defense Ministry spokesman declined comment on the radio report.

Many analysts say any proven ETA involvement in the bombings would probably benefit the ruling party because of its tough anti-ETA stance, but if the attack was the work of Muslim militants, it could be viewed as the consequence of Spain's domestically unpopular backing of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Cadena SER, citing high ranking intelligence officials, said that at first ETA was suspected. That changed after police later on the day of Thursday's attacks discovered a stolen van near the railway station where three of the four bombed trains originated.

In that van was found seven detonators and an Arabic language audio tape giving instruction about the Koran. The van did not have the false license plates ETA normally attaches to its stolen vehicles.

Moreover, other evidence has pointed away from ETA, such as the type of detonators used and the synchronized nature of the attacks.

Four early morning trains were bombed at the same time, similar to the hijacking of four early morning commercial flights in the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States.

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