Algeciras, Spain, Jan 25 (EFE).- A Moroccan man is in custody after attacks Wednesday on two Catholic churches in this southern Spanish city left one person dead and four others wounded, police said.
The assailant, identified as Yasin Kanza, shouted “Allah” as he hacked at his victims with a large machete and authorities are treating the crime as an act of terrorism.
Around 7:00 pm, the suspect entered the Chapel of San Isidro and wounded the Rev. Antonio Rodriguez, 74, during evening Mass.
Kanza went on to the Church of Our Lady of La Palma, located on Plaza Alta, the city’s main square, and vandalized the sanctuary.
The church’s sexton, Diego Valencia, managed to flee, but the attacker caught up with him outside and killed him.
The priest was reported to be out of danger after undergoing surgery at Punta de Europa Hospital in Algeciras, a city of some 123,000 people on the Bay of Gibraltar.
“If all goes well, he (Rodriguez) may even be released in the next few hours,” Mayor Jose Ignacio Landaluce said.
Authorities did not provide any information on the condition of the three other people wounded in the spree.
Municipal police apprehended Kanza on Plaza Alta and quickly turned him over to the National Police.
Spain’s National Court, which hears cases involving terrorism and serious financial wrongdoing, among other offenses, opened a probe and the public prosecutor’s office characterized the attack as “presumably terrorist.”
Sources close to the investigation told EFE that authorities have not ruled out the possibility that Kanza is a “lone wolf” who acted on his own.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered condolences to the family of the slain sexton.
Landaluce declared an official day of mourning and called on people to gather at mid-day Thursday outside the Algeciras cathedral for a rally to repudiate the violence.
“We are all distressed in the face of these deeds, which have filled us with pain,” he said. “Algeciras has always been a city where concord and tolerance reign.” EFE so-lca-mop-rrm/dr