Newspapers throughout Europe focused on Thursday's bombings in Madrid. The question of blame featured prominently in their editorials.
The French paper Liberation argued that the scale of the attacks suggests al Qaeda rather than ETA was behind the 10 simultaneous bombings. "But even before it is known who was responsible, the bloodbath in Madrid will have boosted the popularity of all those who say they are fighting terrorism. "
"A terrible reminder of man's insanity to man," is how the Financial Times described the carnage. "No political cause, however desperate can justify such actions. The only possible purpose must have been to create the maximum public panic and confusion just three days before Spain's general election," the paper commented. It suggested the most effective answer to such brutality is calm determination.
The Guardian described the bombings as "a modern version of the gruesome wartime images painted by Goya: a Spanish commuter train torn apart; a headless body lying on its front; a three-year-old child burned from head to foot; amputated legs and arms scattered on station platforms; pieces of human flesh on the road; mobile phones beeping on bodies carted off; the injured weeping helplessly on the pavement. For most of us, the true awfulness of these scenes was edited out, deemed unfit to view." The London paper then concluded that whoever is found responsible for Thursday's carnage, "both Madrid and its regions will have to work harder than ever to dissociate the legitimate discourse of separatism from the horrors of yesterday's massacre of innocents."
The Danish paper Politiken wrote that Spain and the democratic world have responded to the attacks in Madrid in the manner in which the terrorists would have hoped: with shock, disgust and grief. "The terrorists believe this is one of democracy's weaknesses and fail to notice that it is one of its strengths."
The Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad interpreted the timing of the wave of terror, just three days before a general election, as an onslaught against democracy. "It is insignificant whether the culprits need to be hunted down among the ranks of ETA or within some Islamic grouping such as Al Qaeda," the paper wrote. "Every group that resorts to such terrible acts of violence ostracizes itself from the international community and needs to be combated at all costs. And for whom or for what are these terrorists fighting for?"