Melchor SÁiz-Pardo / Juan Cano
Wednesday, 25 January 2023
A sacristan has died and a priest is seriously injured, with at least four people suffering less serious injuries, in two attacks on churches in Algeciras, in the province of Cadiz. According to all sources, the attacks appear to be jihad-related and the investigation has been taken over by a court specialising in terror offences.
So far one person, of north African origin, has been arrested as the sole suspect in both cases.
The victim of the fatal attack is David Valencia, a sacristan at La Palma church, and the injured man is Father Antonio Rodríguez, parish priest at the chapel of San Isidro. The latter was taken to hospital in a serious condition with a stab wound.
The fatal attack at the church of La Palma was the second of the two and took place at around 7.30pm. The man, dressed in a djellaba, entered the building shouting "Allah Akbar" ("God is the greatest") when the service was ending. He moved through the church knocking down images, crosses and candles with a machete and even went up to the high altar.
The sacristan approached him to ask him to leave the church. The suspect refused and insulted him. He also threatened two women, and when the sacristan asked him to leave again the man began to chase him. He caught up with the sacristan outside in the nearby Plaza Alta where he stabbed him and beat him around the head, causing his death.
At least three passers-by have been treated for cuts after trying to stop the individual, who was eventually detained by police.
Just minutes before the murder of Diego Valencia, the same man had attacked the priest at the nearby chapel of San Isidro, leaving him in a serious condition with a cut to the neck.
He rushed into the chapel at around 7pm, hitting out at religous images with his machete. When confronted by the priest, who asked him to leave the chapel, he stabbed him in the neck.
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