ALGECIRAS, Spain (AP) — Residents of the Spanish city of Algeciras recounted their shock after a machete-wielding attacker jumped on the altar of a church before chasing a victim into a city square and inflicting mortal wounds.
The attacks on two churches by a single assailant on Wednesday night have shaken the city, near the southern tip of Spain across from a bay from Gibraltar.
The Interior Ministry said the man killed in the attack was a sacristan, an individual 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.
Manolo Gonzalez, another sacristan at Nuestra Señora de La Palma, said he knew Valencia. The attacker climbed on the altar, Gonzalez 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.
Rodríguez remains in a serious condition.
Spain’s interior minister is due to visit the city later today, the ministry said. Flags were flown at half-staff in Algeciras, home to an important port with ferry connections to northern Africa, and a minute’s silence was to be held later in the day.