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Police raid home of Spain church attacker

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Police raid home of Spain church attacker

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ALGECIRAS, Spain — Police raided the home of a machete-wielding attacker on Thursday, a day after twin attacks on churches left one man dead and a priest seriously injured.

Spain’s Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said that police were searching the as-yet unnamed attacker’s home to “determine the nature, terrorist or otherwise,” of the incident on Wednesday night. Grande-Marlaska also confirmed no other suspects were involved and that the detainee had no prior criminal record.

The Interior Ministry meanwhile said the suspect was still being questioned, and had been under a Spanish deportation order since June last year. The minister is cutting short a visit to Stockholm for a European Union ministers’ meeting to head to Algeciras.

Algeciras is a highly cosmopolitan port city and the first point of arrival for many boats from North Africa, putting it at the center of Spanish debates on irregular migration.

The Interior Ministry earlier said the man killed in the attack was a sacristan, a person who prepares Mass, at Nuestra Señora de La Palma, while a priest was wounded earlier at another church. The Algeciras town hall said the sacristan was named Diego Valencia and identified the wounded priest as Antonio Rodríguez. Rodríguez remains in serious condition.

Manolo González, another sacristan at Nuestra Señora de La Palma, said he served with Valencia. The attacker climbed on the altar, González said, and Valencia came out “and asked to know what was going on.” He was confronted by a man wielding a machete, so fled outside to a public square. The attacker pursued him and then inflicted mortal wounds.

Candles and flowers adorned the two small churches with whitewashed walls on Thursday, as residents nervously passed police vans waiting in the street. Flags were flown at half-staff in Algeciras, and a minute’s silence was to be held later in the day.

O’Mahony reported from Madrid.

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