Subscribe to Secularism is a Womens Issue

Secularism is a Women’s Issue

Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > Spain church attacks

Spain church attacks

Friday 27 January 2023, by siawi3


Spain church attacks: Suspect was facing deportation

Published 26.01.23 8 hours ago

Flowers are laid in Algeciras after a verger is killedImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Hundreds of people turned up to pay their respects to the verger who was killed in the Algeciras attack

By Kathryn Armstrong
BBC News

A man who allegedly killed a church caretaker and injured a priest in southern Spain had been facing deportation, the authorities say.

The incident happened on Wednesday when a man armed with a machete entered two churches in the city of Algeciras.

A 25-year-old Moroccan man was disarmed and arrested soon after.

The suspect, who is thought to have acted alone, was expected to be sent to the capital Madrid and appear before the High Court on terrorism charges.

The authorities have said the suspect was due to be deported in June as he was in the country illegally. He had no criminal or terrorism-related convictions either in Spain or other allied countries and was not under surveillance.

However, the authorities in Gibraltar said he had been deported from the territory in 2019 for immigration offences.

Algeciras acts as a primary transit hub for migrants from Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Hundreds of people observed a minute’s silence outside the Nuestra Senora de La Palma church where the verger, Diego Valencia, was killed. Many broke down in tears and mourners laid flowers and lit candles in his memory.

According to the interior ministry, the victim managed to get outside the church but was attacked again and fatally wounded.

“He was a very dear person in Algeciras,” one local said about Mr Valencia.

The injured priest of the parish church of San Isidro, Antonio Rodriguez, is said to be in a stable condition after being operated on.

“I send my deepest condolences to the relatives of the verger who died in this terrible attack,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Twitter.

The local Muslim community in Algeciras, has condemned it as a “brutal and vicious attack”.



Machete attacks at Spanish churches leave one dead and four wounded

Authorities are investigating the attacks as a possible act of terrorism; police have arrested a suspect

Image: San Isidro Church in the Spanish city of Algeciras, where the attacker assaulted a priest. The assailant later fled to another nearby church, the Nuestra Señora de La Palma, and murdered the sexton
Police secure San Isidro Church in the Spanish city of Algeciras, where the attacker assaulted a priest. The assailant later fled to another nearby church, the Nuestra Señora de La Palma, and murdered the sexton. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

AP in Barcelona

Wed 25 Jan 2023 23.23 GMT
Last modified on Wed 25 Jan 2023 23.30 GMT

A machete-wielding man killed a sexton and wounded a priest in attacks at two churches in the Spanish city of Algeciras on Wednesday before being arrested, in what authorities are investigating as a possible act of terrorism.

The suspect was arrested and is in the custody of Spain’s national police. The ministry did not identify him.

The attacks began around 7pm when the armed man went into the San Isidro church and assaulted a priest, who was seriously wounded.

The assailant then went to a second church, the Nuestra Señora de La Palma – a five-minute walk away – where he continued his rampage, assaulting the sexton. The sexton, whose job it is to take care of the church and its maintenance, fled outside where the attacker dealt him the mortal wounds in a public square.

The Algeciras town hall identified the sexton as Diego Valencia and the wounded priest as Antonio Rodríguez. The town hall said Rodríguez had been hospitalised and was in a stable condition.

Local media reported that at least three other people had been wounded.

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 offered no further detail on the attacker’s possible motive.

The secretary general of Spain’s Episcopal Conference, Francisco García, wrote on Twitter: “I have received the news of the incident in Algeciras with great pain.”

“These are sad moments of suffering, we are united by the pain of families of the victims and for the diocese of Cádiz,” he added.

Algeciras is near the southern tip of Spain, across the bay from Gibraltar. It is home to an important port with ferry connections to northern Africa.

The town hall has declared a day of mourning; flags will fly at half mast.

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