The suspect of having killed a sacristan and injured four people in a attack on two churches, in the south of Spain, had been under police surveillance for several days. Yasin Kanza, 25 years old and of Moroccan origin, has been living in Algeciras since the summer in an irregular situation. Spain’s Audiencia Nacional is investigating the attack, which it considers to be terrorism.
According to El Mundo, the police authorities had been increasing surveillance on the young man for four days. His irregular situation, the neighborhood where he chose to settle and his “avoidance” attitude towards the police were alarm signals. Kanza was also “aggressive” when patrol cars approached the neighborhood where he lived, known for drug trafficking, illegal immigration and sexual exploitation.
Spain’s Audiencia Nacional has opened a terrorism investigation, which will be conducted by the Central Court of Instruction. For that reason, Yasin Kanza, who was arrested shortly after the attacks, will be transferred to Madrid this Thursday.
A source from the Spanish Ministry of the Interior advances to the Spanish newspaper that the investigation is ongoing “without it being possible at the moment to determine the nature of the attack”.
This Thursday, the Spanish police authorities are conducting searches in the house where Yasin Kanza lived, as part of the investigation.
Kanza will have confused the priest with the priest
The attack on two churches, in the city of Algeciras, province of Cadiz, took place this Wednesday, at 19:30 (local time, 18:30 in Lisbon). Yasin Kanza showed up at San Isidro parish with a machete-like weapon and addressed the priest Antonio Rodriguez – who had just finished mass a few minutes ago. She attacked him with the gun, slashing his neck.. Three people were also injured when trying to stop the attack.
ÇAbout an hour and a half before the attack, the young man was in that church, where he had argued violently with a female parishioner. Between the exchange of words, the woman will have shouted “your faith is not authentictica”, quotes El Mundo.
After the first attack, Yasin Kanza went to the church in La Palma: he entered, went to the altar and started to destroy it. When the sexton, Diego Valencia, tried to stop him, Kanza attacked him and cut him. Even so, the priest managed to escape to the street, where the attacker ended up dealing a mortal blow to his head.
Juan José Marina, parish priest of the church in La Palma, says, in shock, that he learned of the attack in the middle of the mass he was celebrating in the church of Santo António de Padua.
“In the middle of the ceremony that I was officializing, they entered the church and said that a jihadist attack had been committed in La Palma and I immediately went there”, he tells El Mundo. “My sacristan was dead in the middle of Plaza Alta with his head.”
According to the account of the faithful who were in the church at the time of the attack, Kanza was looking for the priest. When he saw Diego Valencia, the striker had mistaken him for the priest.
“When he saw an older person leaving the sacristy, he thought it was the priest, so he went towards him”, explains Juan José Marina. “He first found a catechist who got on her knees: ‘don’t kill me, don’t kill me’ and he walked away towards who he thought was the priest. He was apparently shouting: ‘Ala is great, Allah is great, you are going to die’.
The mortal victim – Diego Valencia – was 65 years old, married and had several children, continues the same Spanish newspaper. He was well liked in the community. The priest Antonio Rodríguez was hospitalized and is in serious condition.
The mayor of Algeciras has decreed a day of mourning in the city for the death of the sacristan. For that reason, this Thursday, the flags of municipal buildings will be at half mast.
Sánchez regrets “terrible attack”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez considered the attack “terrible” and expressed support for the work of the security forces.
“I want to send my most sincere condolences to the relatives of the sacristan who died in the terrible attack in Algeciras. I wish the wounded a speedy recovery”, wrote Sanchez on Twitter.
The leader of the Spanish government and the Socialist Party of Spain (PSOE) also expressed “full support for the work” of the state security forces.