María Eugenia Ciudad Real studied business administration and then business studies, after which she took several more courses to enhance her resumé. She gained good experience and managed to get a good job. She was planning to leave her parents’ and buy a home of her own. Her friends remembered her as a quiet, smiling and observant woman, who was a good listener. She went to work each morning from Leganés, where she lived with her family.
11 March 2004 fell on a Thursday. Early that morning, a number of terrorists with links to Al-Qaeda planted thirteen bombs on four suburban trains covering routes running through Madrid. Ten of the bombs exploded between 7.37 and 7.39 am, when the trains were at Atocha, El Pozo and Santa Eugenia stations and alongside Calle Téllez. 191 people were killed in the attack and around 1,500 were wounded. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in Spanish history. On 3 April 2004, agents from the Special Operations Group (GEO) were about to enter an apartment in Leganés where the perpetrators of the attacks were believed to be hiding when the terrorists detonated twenty kilograms of explosives in an act of collective suicide. The ensuing blast killed one of the officers, bringing the total number of people killed by the 11 March bombers to 192.