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Spain warns of jihadist infiltration threat with 'avalanche' of refugees

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A group of refugees walk towards the Hungarian-Austrian border. Photo: Attila Kisbenedek / AFP
15:14 CEST+02:00
Spain's interior minister on Monday called for tighter controls to prevent members of the armed jihadist group Isis from infiltrating the "avalanche" of refugees arriving in Europe from Syria.

"The vast majority are refugees fleeing war, terror, but we can't forget the Daesh is over there and these barbarians have shown that they are capable of carrying out their threats," Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told daily ABC using the Arabic acronym for the group.

"How can we doubt that, among this avalanche people who are not refugees could infiltrate themselves," he added in the interview published in the conservative newspaper.

"Besides it is obvious that these people are fleeing above all Syria and Daesh is established there," he added.

"Spain will not refuse the right of asylum to anyone," Diaz told ABC before adding that "controls must be strengthened to welcome these people".

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker was expected to unveil a plan on Wednesday to relocate 120,000 refugees in EU countries under a mandatory quota system.

Under Juncker's proposal, Germany and France will take half of the refugees to relieve the burden on Greece, Italy and Hungary, while Spain will take almost 15,000, a European source told AFP.

Anti-government protests that erupted in Syria in March 2011 have spiralled into a complex civil war that has killed more than 240,000 people.

Meanwhile Spain's foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo warned on Monday that the migrant crisis could "tarnish" Europe's image and pledged his country would take in refugees despite its economic woes.

"From an ethical and practical point of view, so as not to tarnish the image of Europe and therefore favour extremism, we must make the maximum effort" to help refugees, Garcia-Margallo said in Iran.

He said Spain would do its part "to welcome a maximum number of refugees, offer them a roof over their heads and social services" despite its financial difficulties.

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Garcia-Margallo did not say how many refugees Spain was willing to receive. 

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker was expected to unveil a plan on Wednesday to relocate 120,000 refugees in EU countries under a mandatory quota system.

Under Juncker's proposal, Germany and France will take half of the refugees to relieve the burden on Greece, Italy and Hungary, while Spain will take almost 15,000.

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