Spanish authorities believe the Moroccan suspect in a deadly machete attack at two churches in the southern port city of Algeciras Wednesday acted alone in the assault, which is being investigated as a suspected terror attack.
“The police investigation is going at a rapid pace. There are not third parties involved in the events,” Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said in Stockholm Thursday, as he entered a European Union meeting there.
The suspect carried out the attack at the churches of San Isidro and Our Lady of Palma in Algeciras Wednesday night, killing a church sacristan and wounded a priest, according to the ministry.
Spain’s National Court in Madrid has begun an investigation “as a suspected terrorist attack” in relation to the assault, the court press office said.
The suspect, arrested shortly after the fatal attack on the sacristan at the second church, is a 26-year-old Moroccan, a police source told CNN.
He has been in Spain since last summer, without proper documentation to stay in the country, and an administrative deportation file had been opened, but an expulsion order had not been expected imminently, an Interior Ministry statement said. The suspect has no prior criminal record in Spain, the ministry statement added.
The suspect has been living in Algeciras since last summer, the city’s press office told CNN.
Some other churchgoers tried to stop the assailant and suffered slight injuries, the Algeciras press office added, without specifying how many or what types of injuries.
The National Court, which handles cases of terrorism, said the suspect would be arraigned before a judge in Madrid, but the timing was not yet known, while the police investigation continues, the court press office said.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez expressed condolences after the attack.
“I want to convey my most sincere condolences to the family of the sacristan who died in the terrible attack in Algeciras”, Sanchez tweeted late Wednesday. “I wish a speedy recovery to those injured. All of our support for the work being done by state security forces.”