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SECURITY

Barcelona tightens security at tourist spots after terror attacks

Barcelona will boost police patrols at tourist sites including the iconic Sagrada Familia church and major sports and cultural events in the wake of last week's deadly vehicle attacks in Spain.

Barcelona tightens security at tourist spots after terror attacks
Police patrol Las Ramblas in Barcelona. Photo: AFP

One of the four suspects arrested over the attacks which killed 15 people and injured over 100 others told a court Tuesday that the jihadists wanted to carry out a major attack targeting monuments with explosives.

“We already have a police presence at the Sagrada Familia, there are already measures in place,” the interior minister with the regional government of Catalonia, Joaquim Forn, told a news conference.

“What we have to see is how to intensify them in a way that is compatible with the visits” to the spectacular church designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, he added.

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Giant planters used to prevent traffic access in Madrid's Gran Via. Photo: AFP

“This will certainly be one of the places where police presence will be immediately intensified,” he added after meeting Barcelona mayor Ada Colau and the representative of Spain's central government in Catalonia, Enric Millo.   

Spain kept the terrorist alert unchanged at the second-highest level after police broke up the group suspected of carrying out the vehicle attacks claimed by the Islamic state group in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils last week.

“This nevertheless allows us to increase our (security) resources,” Forn said.

Catalan police will boost their presence on the streets by 10-20 percent, he said.   

Police will also ramp up numbers at airports and train stations, “major tourist locations”, and events that draw huge crowds such as football matches, concerts or demonstrations.

A technical commission will study the need to set up security barriers at the seaside city's main thoroughfares that could block the entry of vehicles, Colau said.

Colau has come under fire for the absence of bollards — short concrete posts designed to stop vehicles from driving onto sidewalks like Las Ramblas in Barcelona where a van mowed down pedestrians last Thursday, killing 13 and injuring over a hundred.

ENVIRONMENT

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.

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