Spain’s Interior Ministry said a man wielding a machete killed a sexton and injured a priest in attacks on two churches in the city of Algeciras on Wednesday before his arrest, in what authorities are investigating as a possible act. terrorism.
The suspect was arrested in the southern city and is in the custody of the Spanish National Police. The ministry did not identify him.
The ministry said the attack began around 7 p.m. when the gunman entered San Isidro Church and assaulted a priest, who was seriously injured.
The attacker then went to the second church, Nuestra Señora de la Palma – a five-minute walk away – where he entered and continued his rampage, assaulting the sexton. the sexton, whose task is to look after and maintain the church. The ministry said the attacker fled abroad, where the attacker treated him for his fatal injuries in a public square.
The municipality of Algeciras said the sexton was named Diego Valencia and identified the wounded priest as Antonio Rodriguez. The municipality said he was taken to hospital and is in stable condition.
Local media reported that at least three other people were wounded.
Spain’s National Court said a judge had opened an investigation into a possible terrorist act.
The Interior Ministry said police were investigating the incident to determine the “nature of the attack”. No further details were provided about the attacker’s possible motive.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez joined the chain of condolences.
“I want to express my deepest condolences to the families of the sextons who were killed in the horrific attack in Algeciras,” Sanchez wrote on Twitter. “I wish a speedy recovery for the injured.”
“It was with great pain that I received the news of the incident in Algeciras,” the general secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Spain, Francisco García, wrote on Twitter.
He added, “These are sad moments of suffering, we are united by the pain of the families of the victims and the Diocese of Cadiz.”
Algeciras is located near the southern tip of Spain, resting across a bay from Gibraltar. It is home to an important port with ferry connections to North Africa.
The city council declared a day of mourning when flags flew at half the staff.
“We are all stunned by these actions that have filled us with pain,” said Mayor Jose Landalos. Algeciras has always been a city where harmony and tolerance prevail, despite incidents like this that create an image that does not correspond to reality.