25th January 2023, 21:28
Published by GBC News
One man has been killed and four other people injured in an attack on two churches in Algeciras.
A 25-year-old Moroccan man has been arrested. The Spanish government is treating the incident as a suspected Islamist terrorist attack.
A Gibraltarian couple was just metres away when the incident unfolded shortly after 7.20pm on Wednesday evening. They told GBC it was a harrowing experience. First they felt numb with shock when they realised the gravity of what they were seeing. Amid panic and screams, they then provided a description of the attacker to the police.
Minutes earlier, the attacker had entered the La Palma church screaming and waving a machete, while the mass was ongoing.
The sexton - the religious officer in charge of the sacristy – asked him to leave, before being attacked and killed outside the church in the Plaza Alta public square.
The attacker had already knifed a priest in the San Isidro church. The victim was taken to hospital with serious injuries; his condition was described as stable.
At least three others are believed to have been injured.
A spokesman for the Office of the Chief Minister said the Gibraltar Government was very concerned by the reports and expressed condolences and solidarity to the people of Algeciras as it awaited details from the law enforcement agencies.
The muslim community in Gibraltar says it condemns what occurred in Algeciras yesterday.
Imam and Preacher Abdessamad Elmokhalfi told GBC:
"We are deeply saddened by the news because Islam forbids all forms of murder. Let us keep the peace and our diversity intact. I Imam and Preacher in Gibraltar, humbly pray for peace, harmony, respect and cooperation. The Quran mentions“ Whoever kills one person and spreads corruption it shall as if he killed whole of humanity”. Lastly I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family of the Clergy who was murdered in the awful incident."
The Muslim community in Algeciras has condemned the murder as a "brutal and vicious attack" and expressed solidarity with those who had been injured:
"Desde la comunidad islámica Al Rahmah queremos hacer pública nuestra consternación por el asesinato de un religioso en la Plaza Alta de Algeciras y mostrar toda nuestra solidaridad y empatía con los heridos”.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wrote on Twitter: "I send my deepest condolences to the families of the clergyman who died in this terrible attack."
Deported from Gibraltar in 2019
The 25 year-old is thought to have been deported from Gibraltar after arriving illegally on the Rock in 2019. At the time, the group he arrived with said they were in 'in search of a better life'. According to the Gibraltar Chronicle, a spokesperson for the RGP said they believe he is the same man that has been arrested following the incident in Algeciras.