A machete-wielding man killed a sexton and injured a priest in attacks on two churches in the Spanish city of Algeciras on Wednesday before being arrested, in what authorities are investigating a possible act of terrorism.
The suspect has been arrested and is being held by the Spanish National Police. The ministry did not identify him.
The attacks began around 7 p.m. when the gunman entered the church of San Isidro and assaulted a priest, who was seriously injured.
The attacker then went to a second church, the Nuestra Señora de La Palma – a five-minute walk away – where he continued his rampage, assaulting the sexton. The sexton, responsible for looking after the church and its upkeep, fled outside where the attacker inflicted fatal injuries on him in a public square.
The town hall of Algeciras identified the sexton as Diego Valencia and the injured priest as Antonio Rodríguez. City Hall said Rodríguez was hospitalized and is in stable condition.
Local media reported that at least three other people were injured.
Spain’s national court said a judge had opened an investigation into a possible act of terrorism.
Police are investigating the incident, the Home Office said, to determine the “nature of the attack”. He provided no further details about the attacker’s possible motive.
The Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Spain, Francisco García, wrote on Twitter: “I received the news of the incident in Algeciras with great pain.”
“These are sad moments of suffering, we are united by the pain of the families of the victims and for the diocese of Cádiz”, he added.
Algeciras is near the southern tip of Spain, across the Bay of Gibraltar. It is home to a major port with ferry connections to North Africa.
The town hall has decreed a day of mourning; the flags will fly at half mast.
“We are all stunned by these acts, which have filled us with pain,” Mayor José Landaluce said. “Algeciras has always been a city of harmony and tolerance, despite incidents like this creating an image that does not correspond to reality.