Man held in Spain planned suicide attack -sources

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MADRID, Oct 12 (Reuters) A French man who was arrested in Spain with explosives in his vehicle on Sunday had been planning a suicide attack in Barcelona, Spanish state security sources said.

The sources said Moulay Abel, 30, told police he planned the attack because of an unlucky love affair, but an Islamist motive was also suspected because he had a copy of the Koran in the car and had shaved his body hair.

The man is undergoing psychological checks, a court source said yesterday.

He had planned to drive the vehicle, loaded with two butane gas cylinders and explosive material, into a public building and detonate it from inside, the sources said, citing a police report.

The Interior Ministry was unable to confirm the report yesterday. Barcelona police were unavailable to comment.

Police arrested Abel in Girona near the Spanish-French border, the sources said. Explosives found in the vehicle were sufficient to have caused a strong blast and fire. It was unclear which building he had planned to attack.

After his arrest, police searched Abel's home in northeastern France, from where he had driven nearly 1,000 km before being arrested.

A Madrid court is due on October 31 to give its verdict on the trial of 28 men charged with killing 191 people in train bombs in Madrid in March, 2004.

Investigators have linked the attack to Spain's initial participation in the US-led Iraq war. Even though the Socialist government withdrew troops when it won power shortly after the bombings, officials still see Islamists as a major security threat.

Reuters DKS VP0442

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