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Blast in Spain kills officer, 3 terrorism suspects

Interior minister Acebes: Suspect chanted in Arabic as they died

From Al Goodman
CNN Madrid Bureau Chief

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Early reports said three suspected terrorists were holed up in the building.

Bomb found on Spanish rail line may be linked to March 11 Madrid attacks, officials say.
Madrid (Spain)
Acts of terror

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish policeman was killed and 11 others injured when three suspected terrorists blew themselves up as police were closing in on them, Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes said.

Acebes said the suspects chanted in Arabic as they set off the explosion, which ripped through an apartment block, blowing out walls and windows.

Police were entering the building to search for suspects who may be linked to the Madrid commuter train bombings of March 11, a reporter from CNN partner station CNN+ said.

The explosion, in a four-story building in Leganes, a suburb about 10 miles south of Madrid, happened at 9 p.m. (2 p.m. ET).

CNN+ reporter Oscar Diaz de Liano said that at 9:45 p.m., at least four ambulances arrived at the scene, in addition to others that were already there.

The Web site of a leading Spanish daily newspaper, El Mundo, reported that a field hospital had been set up on the site.

Earlier reports from the scene said a shootout occurred, and the suspects subsequently holed up in the building, which contains about 40 apartments.

Two helicopters hovered over the building shining searchlights down as a large contingent of police surrounded it, Diaz said.

Diaz and other witnesses said many people had been evacuated from nearby buildings.

Police were investigating the possibility that another of the suspects may have left the building before police surrounded it, Acebes said.

The dead policeman was 41 and had two sons, Acebes said.

Ties to train bombings suspected

The men inside the building were presumed to have been involved in the bombings of four commuter trains in Madrid on March 11, which killed 190 people and wounded another 1,800, Acebes said. The three suspects were believed to be North Africans.

The National Court in Madrid has charged 15 people, including 11 Moroccans, in connection with the Madrid train bombings. The court also has issued international arrest warrants for five Moroccans and a Tunisian.

Acebes blamed the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM). The U.S. government considers GICM a terrorist group.

The only Spanish citizen charged in the Madrid train bombings is thought by authorities to have led a group of Moroccans to the explosives in Spain's northern coal mining region, where he used to work.

The Madrid bombs -- 10 bombs in backpacks placed on four trains in three stations -- were detonated by cell phones attached to the explosives.

A similar bomb was found Friday on Spain's high-speed rail tracks between Madrid and Seville.

Acebes said it was too early to determine whether the unexploded bomb was linked to the March 11 bombings.

Spain's high-speed train service resumed Saturday after the state rail system, RENFE, halted it Friday, putting thousands of passengers on hold at the beginning of the weeklong Easter holiday.

A RENFE official said the trains had extra cars to accommodate the stranded passengers.

There has been no known claim of responsibility for the bomb found Friday.

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