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Madrid ramps up security ahead of international gay pride fest

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Madrid ramps up security ahead of international gay pride fest
A gay pride parade in Madrid. Photo: AFP
11:03 CEST+02:00
The Spanish capital city is this year hosting the major World Pride celebration for the LGBT community, and officials are increasing security measures in anticipation of two million visitors.

El Pais reports that Madrid will be facing one of its biggest security challenges as World Pride kicks off on Friday with two million people expected to visit the city. Officials are deploying more than 1,000 police officers for the July 1st parade.

On top of that, the country is currently at level four security alert, meaning high risk. The level above and the highest level, red, is for terrorist attacks.

This high level of alert is also part of why there will be a large police presence, particularly at strategic points like train stations and airports. Large vehicles will also be banned from driving around the city centre at certain times.

Sources from within Spain's anti-terrorist forces told El Pais that they are increasing their security checks, especially at Madrid's Adolfo Suárez airport, through which most visitors will be travelling. There they will be looking out for anyone with links to jihadist groups, as well as people deemed to be possible threats by European and North American police.

Officials will also be especially vigilant about identification checks for tourists.

“This is a critical moment we are in,” said the anti-terrorist sources.

Security officials are also considering having the parade floats led by their own agents in order to prevent terrorist acts.

The 600 officers who will be on duty from Madrid will also be supported by forces from other parts of the country, including officers on horseback and with dogs. Helicopters will be flown to monitor the festivities from the air.

Final details for security are set to be decided this week. Madrid's police department has suspended all leave or free days for their officers, and anticipate that officers may have to double their hours to work up to 16 hours a day.

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