MADRID,(Reuters) – Spanish police have arrested 16 suspected Islamist militants, 11 of whom were linked to al Qaeda”s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.
The other five were suspected of being linked to the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid, the ministry said in a statement.
More than 500 special police agents participated in the operation in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Cadiz, the ministry said.
The Barcelona arrests were part of a joint operation led by two judges leading separate investigations, a court official said.
One was Judge Juan del Olmo, in charge of the investigation into the Madrid train bombings on March 11, 2004, when 191 people were killed and 1,900 injured by 10 bombs that exploded on board four packed commuter trains.
The other judge was Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who has taken over several investigations begun by Baltasar Garzon, who is on leave.
Spain has arrested about 200 suspected Islamist militants in recent years as part of nine separate investigations.
Twenty-four al Qaeda suspects are on trial in Madrid, including three suspected of collaborating with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.