Terror investigation after Church worker killed in ‘stabbing spree’ in Spain

A church worker was killed and a priest badly injured during a stabbing spree in ”at least two” places of Christian worship in Algeciras, southern Spain, which the police are investigating as a terrorist attack.

Diego Valencia, sacristan at the church of Nuestra Señora de La Palma, was killed, while Antonio Rodríguez, priest at San Isidro church, was last night in hospital, seriously injured but stable, the town’s mayor said in a post on Facebook.

Police said last night that a suspect was in custody. Three other people were also injured in the attacks, local media reported.

The attacks began at shortly after 7pm when a man wearing a traditional North African djellaba entered San Isidro church and began striking religious objects with a large machete.

Mr. Rodríguez is reported to have ordered the attacker to leave the building, and was stabbed in the neck outside the church.

In the nearby church of Nuestra Señora de La Palma, the same assailant is reported to have entered shouting and throwing crosses and candles to the ground with his machete, jumping on the altar in front of churchgoers who were attending Mass.

Mr. Valencia approached the man to demand that he leave the church and was reportedly attacked with machete blows to the midriff and head, which proved fatal.

According to reports, the assailant also entered the Europa chapel, which is next door to the church of Nuestra Señora de La Palma.

Police said last night that they had arrested the suspected attacker after assaults on “at least two churches”.

According to police sources cited by the newspaper El País, the assailant is believed to be “of Moroccan origin”, although he was not carrying identity documents.

The Mayor, José Ignacio Landaluce, has declared today an official day of mourning in honor of Mr. Valencia.

Flags will fly at half mast, and there will be a gathering at noon to “reject” the attacks.

“Algeciras has always been a city where harmony and tolerance reign, despite the fact that situations like this show an image that does not correspond to reality,” he said.

The president of the Andalusia region, Juan Manuel Moreno, also condemned the attacks.

“Terrible and heart-breaking. A sacristan has been murdered and at least one other priest has been injured in an attack that took place in Algeciras,” Mr. Moreno said in a post on Twitter.

He called for caution on drawing conclusions while the facts of the attack are being investigated. “Intolerance will never have a place in our society,” Mr. Moreno said.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said: “I want to convey my most sincere condolences to the relatives of the sacristan who died in the terrible attack in Algeciras. I wish those injured a speedy recovery.”

Late last night, the police searched an address close to the churches of San Isidrio and Nuestra Señora de La Palma.

Cardinal Juan José Omella, president of the Spanish episcopal conference, an official assembly of bishops, said he was shocked by the attacks.

“I pray for the victims of this atrocity and their relatives,” he wrote on Twitter.

Algeciras is a port town in the province of Cadiz near Gibraltar, with a population of about 120,000.

A church worker has been killed and a priest badly injured during a stabbing spree across a number of churches in southern Spain, in an incident which the police are investigating as a terrorist attack.

According to media reports, the police arrested a man who had allegedly carried out a machete attack in at least two churches in the center of Algeciras.

Four people were injured in the attack which began at around 7.30pm on Wednesday, according to early reports. Spain’s High Court is set to investigate the stabbings as a possible terrorist attack, a court source told Reuters on Wednesday.

The assailant, described by witnesses as a man wearing a djellabaa traditional robe from the Maghreb region of North Africa, entered Algeciras’s San Isidro church and began striking religious objects with a large machete.

The priest at San Isidro is reported to have ordered the attacker to leave the building, before being stabbed in the neck outside the church.

In the nearby church of Nuestra Señora de La Palma, the same man is reported to have entered shouting and throwing crosses and candles to the ground with a machete, jumping on the altar in front of churchgoers who were attending mass.

The sacristan is reported to have approached the man to demand that he leave the church before being fatally stabbed in the midriff and head.

The man also entered the Europa chapel, which is next door to the church of Nuestra Señora de La Palma, according to reports.

Police said they had arrested the alleged attacker after assaults on “at least two churches”.

According to police sources cited by the newspaper El País, the suspect is believed to be “of Moroccan origin”, although he was not carrying identity documents.

The president of the Andalusia region, Juan Manuel Moreno, condemned the attacks.

“Terrible and heart-breaking. A sacristan has been murdered and at least one other priest has been injured in an attack that took place in Algeciras,” Mr. Moreno said in a post on Twitter, calling for caution on drawing conclusions while the facts are being investigated.

“Intolerance will never have a place in our society,” Mr. Moreno said.

Algeciras is a port town in the province of Cadiz near Gibraltar.

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