Locals describe their surprise at raid in peaceful multiracial area

What stood out for many was the stealth with which the Guardia Civil entered and left their neighbourhood

FERNANDO TORRES MALAGA.

Local residents and business owners have said that one part of the Guardia Civil's raid that stood out for them was the stealth and silence used by the officers to slip in and out of their neighbourhood of Lagunillas last Friday.

"It was a case of 'now you see them, now you don't'; they arrived without sirens, without making a noise," explained a youth out walking his dog.

Mauricio, who runs a bar next to the scene, recalled how four people quietly having lunch in the sun outside suddenly stood up putting on green jackets and balaclavas to hide their faces, telling people nearby to get inside. "We all did as we were told."

"They went dashing from the table towards the person arrested, but, of course, they paid the bill before leaving," he explained.

As quietly and suddenly as they came, the officers left Lagunillas without sirens and without glancing back - and Mauricio opened up his bar again.

Lagunillas is a place of mixed emotions. What many residents see as neglect by the authorities is viewed by others as a tourist attraction. Graffiti covering the abandoned buildings - including the one that was searched last Friday - draws dozens of visitors a day on bike tours in search of urban 'authenticity'.

The local Roman Catholic priest, just as the whole community, is used to the coexistence of different religious faiths in Lagunillas. "Islam is a peaceful religion, here we mix with many of them with normality," he said.

Despite nervousness at the police operation, locals are unperturbed. "It gave us a fright seeing the Guardia Civil with their machine guns, but, hey, it's over now," said Elena while waiting in the queue at the butchers shop.