Attacker in Spanish church machete murder was Moroccan national subject to deportation order

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By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

The man responsible for a terrorist attack at two Spanish churches on Wednesday evening, leaving one dead and several injured, was a Moroccan national who had been under surveillance and was subject to a deportation order, authorities have confirmed.

The attacker, now known as 25-year-old Yasin Kanza, stormed a church in Algeciras armed with a machete and stabbed a priest in the neck. He then went to another church where he attacked a sacristan, hunting his victim down as he attempted to flee and delivering a fatal wound in the town square.

Eyewitnesses told the EFE news agency that the man shouted “death to Christians” along with “Allah” before the attack.

Kanza is a Moroccan national who had been living in Spain illegally. He was recently the subject of a deportation order and had been under surveillance by Spain’s counter-terrorism police because he was linked to terrorist groups and was at risk of radicalization.

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On Thursday, a search was carried out at his home, where digital devices were seized and the sheath of the machete used in the murder was found. Authorities have so far found no evidence to suggest any involvement in a specific terrorist organization, leading them to believe Kanza acted as a lone jihadist.

The Islamic community in Algeciras has already reacted to the tragic event, call it a “vicious attack” and distancing themselves from the perpetrator. The Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska canceled his visit to Stockholm to meet EU counterparts and instead traveled to Algeciras.

The leader of the right-wing Vox party, Santiago Abascal, blamed left-wing politicians for the events.

“He entered Spain illegally, was subject to a deportation order, was under surveillance for jihadism, and was an illegal squatter. How many more like him will there be in Spain?” Abascal asked.

“The mafias of people smugglers and the politicians who open borders and provide them with support cannot hide their responsibility,” he added.

The Spanish authorities have made counter-terrorism a priority since the 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid. Together with Kanza, they have now captured 1,089 jihadists in almost two decades.

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