A national police control. / EFE

Police forces warned over terrorist risks to Spain in Christmas period

The Ministry of Interior has not raised the threat level from 4 to the maximum 5 for the moment but has ordered extra vigilance

MELCHOR SÁIZ-PARDO

Police forces across Spain have been placed on high alert in the face of suspected terrorist attacks over Christmas.

Orders issued this week to national, regional and local forces

said that the next few weeks will be especially sensitive as "there are still high levels of risk of terrorist activity", above all in public spaces with "a significant number of people".

Antiterrorism heads met with Interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska on Tuesday to evaluate the Islamic terrorism threat but held back from raising the alert level from level 4, which Spain has been on since June 2015 (with the maximum being 5).

Security chiefs explained that, although the level can only be raised to 5 if there was news of an imminent attack, measures would need to be strengthened.

In addition, intelligence services have recommended increasing protection of " strategic objectives and infrastructure".

The extra instructions will be in place until 9th January and have also been sent to private security- guard companies. Last month the a terrorist group leader highlighted Spain as a target due to Ceuta and Melilla, its North African cities.