Bladed-weapon attacks in Spain and Germany leave multiple people dead and wounded

ALGECIRAS, Spain / HAMBURG, Germany — Separate attacks with bladed weapons left people dead and wounded in Spain and Germany on Wednesday.

Authorities in Spain announced that they were looking into a suspected “terrorist” act after a man with a machete attacked a number of people at two churches in the southern port city of Algeciras, leaving at least one person dead and four others injured.

Police stated the attacker had been taken into custody. His name and country of citizenship have not been disclosed by police but the man was described as a Moroccan male aged 25 by local media, including El Pais newspaper.

The man killed was Diego Valencia, a sacristan at the Nuestra Senora de La Palma church, said authorities. Parish priest of San Isidro, Father Antonio Rodriguez (74), was among the injured and is in serious condition, they said.

Father Juan Jose Marina, the parish priest of Nuestra Senora de La Palma, told broadcaster SER that the suspect headed directly for Valencia after the liturgy ended, indicating that he may have thought Valencia was the priest.

“Possibly, this death was meant for me and it found him instead,” said a tearful Marina.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez expressed his sympathies to the victims of the “awful assault”, while Secretary General of the Spanish Episcopal Conference Francisco Garcia expressed his “deep grief” at the news.

“These are sad times of suffering, we are united by the pain of the victims’ families and for the Cadiz Diocese,” he said via Twitter.

Mayor of Algeciras Jose Ignacio Landaluce announced a day of mourning for the city on Thursday.

Forensic experts stand next to a train on which an incident involving a knife attack took place, at a railway station in Brokstedt, Germany, on 25 January 2023. (Image: Fabian Bimmer / Reuters)

Earlier in the day, on a regional train between Kiel and Hamburg in northern Germany, a 33-year-old stateless Palestinian man attacked passengers with a knife, leaving two people dead and seven others injured, three of them seriously, according to officials.

Police in Schleswig-Holstein, a state on the border with Denmark, reported that the assailant was in custody and receiving medical attention for minor injuries he suffered during his attack. 

The attacker’s motivation is not yet known. Citing sources on the investigative team, regional television station NDR reported that the attacker immigrated from Gaza eight years ago and has a criminal history.