Police have confirmed that a body found in the early hours of Wednesday morning dumped near a hospital in Algeciras is that of a man violently kidnapped in front of shocked bystanders on the seafront in Estepona just two hours before.
Investigators are not ruling out any motive, but suspect that this is the latest in a wave of score-settling crimes between rival drug gangs who are becoming bolder in their activities on the Costa del Sol.
At 10.30pm on Tuesday night the stretch of Avenida de España in Estepona, overlooking the sea on the east side of the old town, was full of pedestrians and people eating and drinking on pavement terraces.
Between two and four hooded people approached a man outside the Mister Noodle restaurant and fired at him. They then chased him as far as Toolone bar on Plaza de Ortiz, about 300 metres further along Avenida de España, before attacking him, supposedly with the butt of a gun. He was then bundled into the back of a high-end BMW X5 and the car drove way.
At half past midnight, emergency services were alerted to a man lying in a dirt track opposite the Punta Europa hospital in Algeciras, some 40 kilometres away. An ambulance was called but nothing could be done to save him. The body showed signs of being hit and had stab wounds.
The same night, a BMW X5, believed to be the same one used in Estepona, was seized in San Roque, and although there was some delay in linking the body found in Algeciras to the kidnap in Estepona, police confirmed that they are connected. The dead man has not been named but is described as a 29-year-old from Spain. Investigators say that the description of the dead man matches and the tattoos on the body are the same seen by witnesses in Estepona.
Panic in Estepona
Onlookers have been speaking of the panic that swept through residents and holidaymakers in Estepona on Tuesday night as the events unfolded. Many feared a terrorist attack as the sound of bullets and people's cries rang out along Avenida de España.
At first people thought the noises were firecrackers, " but we soon realised they were shots and it felt like several pistols firing at the same time, and people started to run all over the place and seek refuge in the bars," explained Pepi, a waitress.
A waiter at Toolone bar, Kike López, said that the man under attack was holding on to a street railing to avoid being taken. He added that customers had fled in all directions "like in a film" and that some had yet to come back and pay their bills. Another person, out enjoying the warm evening said, "I have never experienced anything as stressful."