Spain’s government probing ‘terror’ motive in church machete attacks that left 1 dead, others injured

Streaming HUBJanuary 26, 2023

A knife-wielding man went into two churches in southern Spain on Wednesday, killing a church maintenance worker and injuring several others, including a priest, and authorities are investigating possible terrorist motives.

Spain’s interior ministry said an armed man entered the San Isidro church in the city of Algeciras, near the southern tip of Spain, at around 7 p.m. and attacked a priest, who was seriously injured.

Police work next to the body of a man killed in Algeciras, southern Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.

Police work next to the body of a man killed in Algeciras, southern Spain, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.
(Nono Rico/Europa Press via AP)

The assailant went to another church, Nuestra Señora de la Palma – a five-minute walk away – and continued his rampage, attacking a church maintenance worker. The ministry said the activist fled outside where the assailant inflicted mortal wounds on her in a public square.

Local media reported that at least three other people were injured.

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City officials identified the worker as Diego Valencia and the injured priest as Antonio Rodríguez. The town hall said he was hospitalized and in stable condition.

The suspect was arrested and is in the custody of the Spanish National Police. The ministry did not identify him, but local media reported that the attacker was a 25-year-old Moroccan.

In this screen grab of a video, people gather next to a funeral vehicle at the site of a stabbing incident at a church in Algeciras, Spain, January 25, 2023.

In this screen grab of a video, people gather next to a funeral vehicle at the site of a stabbing incident at a church in Algeciras, Spain, January 25, 2023.
(Via Forta/Reuters)

Video footage obtained by Reuters shows two officers carrying a man in a sweatshirt and handcuffs through a police station.

Spain’s National Court said a judge has opened an investigation into a possible act of terrorism. Police are investigating the incident, the interior ministry said, to determine “the nature of the attack”. It gave no further details about the attacker’s possible motive.

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“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families of the deceased [church maintenance worker] killed in the horrific attack in Algeciras,” Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wrote on Twitter. I wish the injured a speedy recovery.”

The town hall declared a day of mourning when flags would fly at half-mast.

Mayor Jose Landlus said, “We are all shocked by these acts, which have filled us with pain.” “Algeciras has always been a city where harmony and tolerance reign, despite incidents like this one that create an image that does not correspond to reality.”

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Algeciras is located across a bay from Gibraltar and is home to an important port with ferry connections to North Africa.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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