Spanish police detain Al-Qaeda terror suspects

Spanish police on Tuesday arrested two "suspected terrorists" believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Spain's interior ministry said.

Officers "today detained two suspected terrorists of Al-Qaeda in Murcia and Zaragoza," with help from the French and Moroccan police, the ministry said.

One man of Algerian origin, Nou Mediouni, was arrested in the northern city of Zaragoza and one of Moroccan origin, Hassan El Jaaouani, in the southeastern region of Murcia.

The ministry said they were "suspected members of a radical cell related to the terrorist organisation AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb)".

The north African branch of the late Osama Bin Laden's global extremist network, AQIM has carried out attacks and kidnappings across the region.

The statement did not elaborate on the arrests but said it would give more details later.

A judicial source who asked not to be named said the two were considered to have recently become radicalized and had consulted jihadist Internet sites.

The source said the two would go before a judge at the National Court in Madrid on Thursday.

Several suspected Islamic extremists have been arrested in recent years in Spain.

Police in Valencia in February arrested a 22-year-old Moroccan, Mohamed Echaabi, for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks in Spain and elsewhere in Europe.

In March 2012, police in Valencia arrested Mudhar Hussein Almalki, a Saudi suspected of running jihadist Internet forums and sharing documents with extremists.

In August, Spanish authorities said they arrested two Chechens and a Turk, suspected Al-Qaeda members thought to have been planning an attack in Spain or elsewhere in Europe.

On March 11, 2004, Spain suffered one of Europe's worst extremist attacks. 

Explosions on packed commuter trains in Madrid killed 191 people in bombings linked to Al-Qaeda.

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Mar Menor: Spain unveils plan for revival of crisis-hit lagoon

Spain's environment ministry on Thursday unveiled a roadmap for regenerating the stricken Mar Menor, one of Europe's largest saltwater lagoons that is slowly dying from agricultural pollution.

Mar Menor: Spain unveils plan for revival of crisis-hit lagoon
A dead fish decomposes on the seashore in Puerto Bello de la Manga on August 25, 2021, in La Manga del Mar Menor, Murcia, Spain. Tonnes of fish and crustaceans washed ashore in August in Spain's Mar Menor, once a lagoon paradise that is slowly dying from agricultural pollution. Photo: Jose Miguel FERNANDEZ / AFP

The plan would curb some harmful agricultural practices blamed for pushing the lagoon in southeastern Spain to what ecologists have described as “the brink of ecological collapse”.

“The environmental crisis of the Mar Menor is unsustainable, the damage must be stopped immediately,” Environment Minister Teresa Ribera said as she unveiled the 382-million-euro ($440-million) investment plan on a visit to the area.

In August, millions of dead fish and crustaceans began washing up on the lagoon’s shores, scenes that experts have repeatedly blamed on agricultural pollution.

They say the sea creatures died due to a lack of oxygen caused by hundreds of tonnes of fertiliser nitrates leaking into the water, triggering a phenomenon called eutrophication which collapses aquatic ecosystems.

The ministry’s plan for 2022-26 includes short- and medium-term steps to slash the contaminants entering the lagoon, ending illegal irrigation practices and revitalising the Mar Menor’s shoreline.

READ MORE: Five stats to understand why Spain’s Mar Menor is full of dead fish

It outlines several environmental regeneration projects to support biodiversity in and around the lagoon, including the creation of a 1.5-kilometre (one mile) buffer zone along the Mar Menor’s shores.

Earlier this year, Ribera accused regional authorities of turning a blind eye to farming irregularities in the Campo de Cartagena, an intensively farmed area surrounding the lagoon.

The plan involves cracking down on illegal irrigation and cutting off supplies to farms without irrigation rights, reviewing permits for wastewater disposal and monitoring livestock farms.

Earlier this month, ecologists submitted a formal complaint to the EU over Spain’s “continued failure” to protect the Mar Menor, urging the European Commission to take “immediate action”.

Although the lagoon is protected under various EU directives and the UN environment programme, they said Spain has failed to comply with its legal obligations, taking “only superficial steps” to safeguard the Mar Menor from damaging agricultural practices.