The scene in the Plaza Alta de Algeciras after the attack. / PHOTO: EFE

One person dead and a priest seriously injured in suspected jihadist attack on churches in Algeciras

The attacker, of North African origin, who has been arrested by police, allegedly stabbed one of the individuals with a large machete to the cry of Allahu Akbar

MELCHOR SÁIZ-PARDO / JUAN CANO MADRID / MALAGA.

A sacristan has died, a parish priest has been seriously injured and at least three other people have less serious injuries due to wounds from a large machete, following two attacks on two churches in Algeciras, in Cadiz, which, according to sources, have jihadist overtones.

In fact, the Investigating Court 6 of the National Court, the court responsible for crimes of terrorism, has already taken charge of the case, which is being investigated as an attack by a possible 'lone wolf'. At the moment one person, of North African origin, has been arrested as the sole individual responsible for the two attacks.

Image of the the machete and the alleged attacker.

The deceased is Diego Valencia, sacristan of the La Palma church and the seriously injured is Father Antonio Rodríguez, parish priest of the San Isidro chapel. The latter has received a stab wound and is in serious condition at a city hospital.

Deadly attack

The deadly attack on the church of La Palma, the second of the attacks chronologically, happened at around 7.30pm. The man, dressed in a djellaba, entered the church allegedly shouting "Allah is great" when the Eucharist was finishing. He ran around the church knocking images, crosses and candles to the ground with his machete, even going up to the main altar of the temple.

At that moment the sacristan, Diego Valencia, approached him to ask him to leave the church. The suspect refused and argued. When the man of North African origin was leaving through the sacristy, he once again threatened two women. Again, the sacristan urged him to leave, at which point the alleged murderer began to pursue him. When he caught up with him in the nearby Plaza Alta, after he fell, the assailant stabbed him to death.

Bystanders injured

After the murder of the sacristan, at least three bystanders were injured with cuts from the machere when trying to stop the attacker. Finally, it was the Local Police in Algeciras police who managed to subdue the individual, who has been handed over to the National Police.

Only minutes before the murder of Diego Valencia, the same man had left the parish priest of the nearby church of San Isidro badly injured with a cut on the neck. There, around 7pm, he also broke in, hitting the sacred images with a large machete and confronted the parish priest when he tried to throw him out of the church. In the end, he ended up stabbing him in the neck.

The attack this Wednesday would be the first attack of this type committed in Spain since the hit-and-run in Roldán, a district of Torre Pacheco (Murcia) in September 2021.