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Spain mourns Madrid bomb victims

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Spanish bombing probe expands

Leaders express solidarity with Spain

Identifying bomb victims difficult task
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Do you think al Qaeda was involved in the Madrid bombings?
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Madrid (Spain)

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Spain has begun three days of mourning for nearly 200 victims of a coordinated attack on Madrid's commuter trains a day earlier.

Authorities are still investigating who carried out the near-simultaneous bombings at the height of morning rush hour Thursday.

The Interior Ministry Friday raised the death toll to 198, with about 1,400 wounded in the attacks. Fourteen of the victims were from 10 countries outside Spain.

Funerals were to begin later in the day, and Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar called for Spaniards across the country to march to protest violence.

Aznar on Friday backtracked from blaming Basque separatists for the bombing, saying "all lines of investigation" were being pursued.

Pressed by reporters as to why Spanish officials quickly blamed ETA, only to later say Islamic terrorists may have been behind the attacks, Aznar refused to speculate as to who was responsible. ETA has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

"We are talking about a horrendous terrorist attack. ... Don't ask me to play lotto," Aznar said. "I cannot evaluate probabilities. We only work with things that are proven."

While a group claiming to represent al Qaeda said it was behind the attack, intelligence sources have consistently told CNN that the group does not speak for al Qaeda, and is unreliable.(Full story)

Meanwhile, relatives gathered at a makeshift morgue in a Madrid exhibition hall to identify the remains of their loved ones.

CNN Correspondent Alessio Vinci, who is at the scene, said more than 180 bodies had been brought to the site, and more than 50 had been identified.

Red Cross officials said DNA and dental records would have to be used to identify some of the remains.

The process of identification is expected to speed up Friday when a team of forensic experts from Israel arrives in Madrid to assist Spanish officials.

The Madrid explosions occurred Thursday shortly before 8 a.m. (2 a.m. EST), when four separate trains at three different stations were rocked by blasts along the southern part of Madrid's rail network.

Interior Minister Angel Acebes said there were a total of 10 explosions at the Santa Eugenia, El Pozo and Atocha stations -- three other bombs were found and detonated by police.

Authorities are also investigating a van found with seven detonators and an Arabic tape of Koranic teachings in a Madrid suburb, Acebes said.

The tape contained no threats and is available commercially.

The van was stolen last month, and authorities were led to it by a tip from the public, according to the interior minister.

The bombings came two and a half years to the day after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.

Countries across the world expressed their outrage. (Global reaction)

Al Qaeda had previously threatened any country that allied itself with the United States in the war against Iraq. Spain has been a key U.S. ally.

An Arabic-language newspaper in London said it received an e-mail claim of responsibility in the name of al Qaeda from the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade.

While it has claimed previous attacks blamed on al Qaeda, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade has also claimed responsibility for the U.S. power blackout last summer, a claim dismissed by terror experts.

The Madrid attack came ahead of Sunday's general election in which Spain's conservative ruling Popular Party -- which has taken a hard-line stance against ETA -- is currently leading in the polls.

After the blasts, all political parties announced they were suspending campaign rallies ahead of the election.

Aznar addressed the nation and condemned ETA, saying they must be crushed and that there will be "no possible negotiation with these killers."

"March 11, 2004, now holds its place in the history of infamy," he said.

The scale of the attack is unlike anything ETA has ever carried out. ETA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

Before Thursday's attack, the highest death toll in any ETA-linked attack was in 1987 -- when 21 were killed in a Barcelona supermarket blast.

Attacks blamed on or claimed by ETA over the last three decades have killed 800 people in Spain.

The group has been fighting for an independent homeland in northern Spain.

Authorities also say ETA usually warns authorities before an attack, and claims responsibility for its actions.

CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman, Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, Correspondents Alessio Vinci and Jeanne Meserve contributed to this report

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