Police carry out anti-terror raids in Catalonia

Spanish police proceeded to several anti-terror raids in northeastern Catalonia Thursday as part of a crackdown on a suspected Islamist extremist network.


Spanish police launched a major anti-terrorist operation in northeastern Catalonia on Thursday which media reports said had netted several members of a suspected Islamist extremist network.

A police source confirmed to AFP that an operation linked to Islamic terrorism was indeed under way in Catalonia.

Spanish radio Cadena Ser said the raids had been ordered by Spain's top anti-terrorist judge, Baltasar Garzon. No other details were immediately available.

Back in January Spanish police broke up what they said was a group of mainly Pakistani Islamist extremists suspected of planning attacks in Barcelona and arrested 15 people.

On June 5, Spain's anti-terrorist court charged 11 of those arrested, most of them Pakistani nationals, with membership of a terrorist group.

Last year 52 people were detained in Spain over their alleged links to Islamist extremism, a report last month from the attorney general's office said.

"The current situation is of high risk and recent events do not exactly call for optimism," it said.

Spain's proximity to Algeria and Morocco, where extremist groups have stepped up their activity, and the presence of terrorist training camps in the Sahara desert, were cited as factors putting the country at risk.

Eighteen people, 14 Islamist militants and four Spaniards, are currently serving sentences for the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in what was the deadliest attacks by extremists on European soil.

The Spaniards were convicted for trafficking in explosives that ended up being used in the attacks.

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