Spain remains on high terror alert as one-year anniversary of Cataluña terror attacks nears

AUTHORITIES in Spain remain concerned about possible terrorist attacks in the country as Cataluña approaches the one year anniversary of strikes there this Thursday and Friday.

Senior police officials said they had foiled around a dozen plots over the past four years which included gun raids and a plan to poison water supplies in major cities.

The plotters were linked in most cases to the Islamic State and other fundamentalist terror organisations, they added.

The attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils and explosions in Alcanar on August 16 and 17 2017 claimed the lives of 24 people including eight attackers. More than 152 people were injured.

Spain’s Interior Ministry has kept the country’s terror threat level at four out of five since last year, meaning the risk of an attack is high.

Francisco Jose Vazquez, a senior Guardia Civil officer, said the threat level was justified given the amount of plots uncovered.

“We can assure the public that jihadist activity is currently latent in Spain. Recently we have investigated and raided cells that were plotting attacks similar to the ones seen in Berlin 2016 and on Westminster Bridge in London in 2017,” Vazquez said.

The Berlin attack saw several people run over by a truck at a Christmas market in the city. Khalid Masood ran over pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer as he attempted to get onto the Houses of Parliament estate in March last year.

The Cataluña incidents saw one house explode on August 16. The cause is believed to have been a stockpile of explosives accidently going off and a second blast occurred during evacuation efforts.

Younes Abouyaaqoub drove a Fiat Talento van down the pavement of Barcelona’s La Rambla the following day at high speed before fleeing on foot.

He hijacked a car in the city’s university quarter, stabbed the driver to death and fled before being killed in a shootout with police in Subirats on August 21.

Houssaine Abouyaaqoup, Omar Hichamy, Mohamed Hichamy, Moussa Oukabir and Said Aalla bought four knives and an axe and donned fake bomb vests before ramming pedestrians in Cambrils on August 18.

Four of the attackers were shot and killed on site and a fifth died in hospital. A 63-year-old Spanish woman was stabbed to death in the strike and six other people were injured.

Police later said the five were linked to the attacker in Barcelona. The motives in all cases were said to be support for the Islamic State and other terror groups.

Others cited Western intervention in countries such as Syria and Iraq which Spain has played a minor role in.

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Written by

Joe Gerrard

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