Spain: sacristan dead and priest injured in machete attack

A sacristan was killed and a priest seriously injured in a machete attack Wednesday evening in two churches in Algeciras (southern Spain), which led to the opening of an investigation for “terrorism”, announced the authorities.

“After 7:00 p.m., a man entered the church of San Isidro in Algeciras and attacked the priest, armed with a machete, seriously injuring him,” the Interior Ministry said in a message to the press. .

“He then went to the Nuestra Señora de La Palma church where he attacked the sacristan, after causing various damages,” the ministry added.

The sexton then “managed to get out of the church but was caught outside by the assailant, who inflicted several fatal injuries on him”, continued the ministry, adding that the assailant had been “immobilized and arrested ” by the police.

These two churches are located within walking distance of each other in this town at the southern tip of Spain.

On Twitter, the head of the Spanish government, the socialist Pedro Sanchez, “sent (his) most sincere condolences to the relatives of the sacristan who died in the terrible attack on Algeciras” and wished “a speedy recovery to the injured”.

The police, who had initially mentioned a toll of several wounded, however now indicate that only the priest was injured in the attack.

According to a spokeswoman for the emergency services, the priest was injured “in the neck” and hospitalized while the sexton died on the spot.

The sacristan killed was called Diego Valencia and the priest Antonio Rodríguez, according to the mayor of Algeciras.

– Investigation for terrorism –

Contacted by AFP, the prosecution announced that an investigation had been opened for “presumed acts of terrorism”. It will be conducted by a judge from the National Audience, the court in charge of terrorism cases.

The Ministry of the Interior, for its part, insisted that it was “not possible at the moment to determine the nature of the attack”.

Police secure the area where a man killed a sexton in Algeciras, southern Spain, on January 25, 2023 (AFP – STRINGER)

The identity and nationality of the attacker have not been released by the authorities.

In a video released by the police, we see him from behind, black pants and a black and white gray hoodie. Handcuffed, he walks in socks in a corridor, framed by two police officers.

The mayor of Algeciras declared a day of mourning and invited residents to gather in a sign of “rejection” of this attack Thursday at 12:00 p.m. in front of the church near which the sexton was killed.

Condemnations came from all sides, Juanma Moreno, president of the Andalusia region, describing the attack as “terrible and unbearable” while the leader of the Popular Party, the main formation of the right-wing opposition, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, s is said to him “appalled”.

“These criminal acts tarnish the coexistence that our society has always enjoyed in Algeciras (…) These reprehensible acts have nothing to do with our religion or with the Muslim community”, denounced for its part the local Muslim community on the Facebook account of the Ishbilia mosque in Seville, capital of the region.

The last attacks perpetrated in Spain date back to August 2017, when two attacks by a jihadist cell left 16 dead and 140 injured on the avenue des Ramblas in Barcelona and in the seaside resort of Cambrils. They had been claimed by the Islamic State organization.

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