A machete-wielding man killed a sexton and wounded a priest in attacks on two churches in the Spanish city of Algeciras on Wednesday before he was arrested, in what authorities are investigating as a possible terrorist act.
The suspect has been arrested and is in custody SpainNational Police. The ministry did not identify him.
The attacks began around 7 pm 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 continued his rampage, attacking the sexton. The sexton, whose job it is to look after and maintain the church, fled outside where his attacker treated his mortal wounds in a public square.
Algeciras City Council identified the sexton as Diego Valencia and the wounded priest, Antonio Rodriguez. The municipality said Rodriguez was taken to hospital and was 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.
“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 near the southern tip of Spain, across the bay from Gibraltar. It is home to an important port with ferry connections to North Africa.
The town hall declared a day of mourning. Flags will fly at half mast.
“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.