Spanish police foil jihadist attack planned for Seville’s Holy Week processions

Police have arrested a suspect in Morocco allegedly preparing a jihadist attack on Seville, the southern Spanish city known for its Holy Week processions, Spain's interior ministry said Wednesday.

Spanish police foil jihadist attack planned for Seville's Holy Week processions

The intelligence and police services of the two countries conducted an anti-terrorist operation that ended in the arrest of the “alleged jihadist,” said the statement.

Contacted by AFP, the ministry refused to say whether the suspect intended to carry out the attack this week, during the world-famous processions that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Spanish police were on Wednesday afternoon searching his home in Seville.

Spain is on level-four terror alert out of a maximum of five.

The country has twice been struck by major jihadist attacks.

In what is still Europe's deadliest in March 2004, bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people in an attack claimed by Al Qaeda-inspired extremists.

Then in August 2017, a double attack left 16 dead in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils. 

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Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona

A court in Spain on Monday remanded in custody three suspected members of Islamic State arrested last week in Barcelona, including an Algerian man who had fought for the Islamist group in Iraq.

Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona
Archive photo of a suspected jihadist arrested near Barcelona. Photo: AFP

Spanish authorities began their investigation after becoming aware just before Christmas that the “potentially dangerous” Algerian man was in Spain, police said in a statement.   

The man, a “jihadist” who had fought for the Islamic State group in Iraq, was arrested at a building occupied by squatters in Barcelona's seaside neighbourhood of Barceloneta, the statement added.

Police detained two other Algerian men as part of the operation, one suspected of giving him “logistical support” in Spain and another described by police as has “acolyte”.

The operation was carried out in cooperation with European Union law enforcement agency Europol and the FBI, as well as the intelligence services of Spain and Algeria, the statement said.

The three men appeared before a court on Monday where the presiding judge ordered they be remanded in custody on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organisation.

Their arrest comes as the trial of three men accused of helping the jihadists behind the August 2017 attacks in Barcelona and a nearby town that killed 16 people is wrapping up at a court near Madrid.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, one of which involved a van ramming people in the centre of Barcelona.   

While none of the three men on trial are charged with direct responsibility, they are in the dock for helping the attackers, who were all shot dead by police.