BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — A knife-wielding man killed a sexton and wounded a priest in attacks on two churches in the city of Algeciras on Wednesday before being arrested, Spain’s interior ministry said, in what authorities are investigating as a possible act of terrorism.
The suspect was arrested in the southern city and is in the custody of the Spanish National Police. The ministry did not identify him.
The attack began around 7 p.m. when the gunman entered the San Isidro church and attacked a priest, who was seriously injured, the ministry said.
The attacker then went to a second church, Nuestra Señora de La Palma – a five-minute walk away – where he entered and continued his rampage, attacking the sexton. The sexton, whose job it is to look after the church and its maintenance. he fled outside where his assailant inflicted his fatal wounds into a public square, the ministry said.
Algeciras city hall said the sexton’s name was Diego Valencia and identified the injured priest as Antonio Rodriguez. City Hall said she is hospitalized and stable.
Local media reported that at least three other people were injured.
Spain’s National Court has announced that a judge has opened an investigation into a possible terrorist act.
Police are investigating the incident, the interior ministry said, to determine the “nature of the attack”. He did not provide further details on the possible motive of the attacker.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez joined the outpouring of condolences.
“I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of the hexagon killed in the terrible attack in Algeciras,” Sanchez wrote on Twitter. “I wish the injured a speedy recovery.”
The general secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Spain, Francisco García, wrote on Twitter that “I received the news of the incident in Algeciras with great pain.”
“These are sad moments of pain, we are united by the pain of the families of the victims and for the Diocese of Cádiz,” he added.
Algeciras is located near the southern tip of Spain, across a bay from Gibraltar. It is home to a major port with coastal shipping links to northern Africa.
City hall has declared a day of mourning when flags will be flown at half-mast.
“We are all surprised by these acts, which have filled us with pain,” said Mayor José Landaluce. “Algeciras has always been a city of harmony and tolerance, despite incidents like this that create an image that does not correspond to reality.”