Authorities step up security checks after US state dept warns of terror attack in Barcelona
Barcelona, Dec 26: Lawkeepers in the Spanish city of Barcelona have stepped up security checks following a security warning from the US Department of State over possible terror attacks.
The sudden warning from the state department came in the form of a tweet on December 23 in which travellers were advised to "exercise heightened caution around areas of vehicle movement, including buses". The tweet also said that the terrorists could carry out the attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs and other public spots. IntelNews said it is rare for the state department to issue warnings for specific locations, unless Washington "is in possession of critical intelligence pointing to the possibility of a terrorist attack".
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, the province in Spain which has been witnessing a political instability over a secession movement.
#Spain: Exercise heightened caution around areas of vehicle movement, including buses, in the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona during Christmas and New Year’s. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, and other public areas. pic.twitter.com/MPGiZwMwxq— Travel - State Dept (@TravelGov) December 23, 2018
Miquel Buch, Minister of the Interior for Catalonia region, told a radio station in Barcelona hours after the warning that local authorities were assessing the warning issued by the state department. Deployment of police personnel increased around transportation hubs and tourist spots throughout the city including Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Gothic Quarter and Las Ramblas pedestrian Boulevard, the local media reported.
Although there was no precise information over the possible terror attack, Catalonian media reports said on Tuesday, December 25, that it could be a vehicular attack by Islamists during the Christmas holiday season. Using vehicles as means of terror attack has been on the rise across Europe of late.
In August last year, a 22-year-old Morocco-born Islamist named Younes Abouyaaqoub ran a van into large crowds of tourists at Las Ramblas, killing 14 and injuring nearly 150. It was followed by another vehicle attack by five men in Cambrils, a small seaside town located south of Barcelona, killing one. All the perpetrators were members of the Islamic State and were shot by the security forces.