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Socialists score upset in Spain

Government ousted in backlash 3 days after terror attacks

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Socialist PSOE supporters hold a minute of silence with a black ribbon at party headquarters for the train bombings victims

Socialist PSOE supporters hold a minute of silence with a black ribbon at party headquarters for the train bombings victims

Denis Doyle, Associated Press

MADRID, Spain — The opposition Socialists scored a dramatic upset win in Spain's general election Sunday, unseating conservatives stung by charges they provoked the Madrid terror bombings by supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq and making Spain a target for al-Qaida.

It was the first time a government that backed the Iraq war has been voted out of office. Incoming prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has pledged to bring home the 1,300 troops Spain has stationed in Iraq when their tour of duty ends in July.

The win capped four tumultuous days that began with the terror attacks, the arrest of five suspects in the bombings, including three Moroccans, and a reported al-Qaida claim of responsibility.

One of the three Moroccans was a follower of a suspected al-Qaida member jailed in Spain for allegedly helping plan the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, according to court documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

It was the latest suggestion that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist group may have been involved in the bombings.

A Sept. 17, 2003, indictment calls Jamal Zougam, 30, a "follower" of Imad Yarkas, the alleged leader of

Spain's al-Qaida cell who was jailed for allegedly helping plan the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. Yarkas, whose alias is Abu Dahdah, remains in Spanish custody.

The indictment targets Yarkas and 34 others, including bin Laden, for terrorist activities connected to al-Qaida. Zougam was not indicted.

The indictment, led by Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, showed police had searched Zougam's home at least once, turning up a video of Mujahedin fighters in Dagestan, Russia, and telephone numbers of three members of the Madrid al-Qaida cell allegedly led by Yarkas.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, asked on "Fox News Sunday" what the United States knows about who might be responsible, said, "Essentially what the Spanish know, and that is that they can't yet place responsibility."

In Sunday's election, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party declared victory with 96 percent of the votes counted. The party soared from 125 seats in the outgoing 350-seat legislature to 164 in the next one. The governing Popular Party fell to 148 from 183.

Rodriguez Zapatero began his victory speech with a minute of silence for those killed in the terror attacks.

"Today voters have said they want a change of government," Rodriguez Zapatero said.

The numbers will leave him short of a majority, which is 176 seats. They will have to seek help to form a government.

The Socialists ruled Spain from 1982-1996 but ran afoul of corruption scandals and were voted out of power.

Savoring victory again, outside Socialist party headquarters several hundred jubilant supporters cheered. But they, too, remembered the 200 people killed in Thursday's railway blasts. "Not all of us are here. Two hundred are missing," the crowd shouted.

Pre-election polls had favored the ruling party to win handily.

But on election day voters expressed anger with the government, accusing it of provoking the Madrid attacks by supporting the U.S.-led war in Iraq, which most Spaniards opposed.

The government had insisted that its prime suspect in Thursday's rail bombings was the armed Basque separatist group ETA, even as evidence mounted of an Islamic link in the railway bombings, which killed 200 people and wounded 1,500.

The government was accused of withholding information on the investigation to save the election.