Spanish police shoot man dead as he tries to attack officers with knife near Barcelona
Security forces in Barcelona were on Monday investigating an attempted terrorist attack after shooting dead a man who entered a police station and shouted “Allahu Akbar” while charging at an officer with a knife.
Police cordoned off streets surrounding the man’s home in Cornellá de Llobregat, a suburb of Barcelona, after he was shot by a female officer at a local station in the early hours of Monday morning.
The Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police force, ordered officers to reinforce security and protective measures following the attempted assault, which came three days after the anniversary of the twin terror attacks in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils.
“The intent was clearly predetermined to kill members of our force,” Rafel Comes, head of the Mossos’ central coordination unit, told a press conference. “We are treating it as a terrorist attack”.
The police chief said that they had not yet uncovered any links between the cell that carried out last year’s attacks and the assailant in Cornellá, identified as Abdelouahab Taib, a 29-year-old man of Algerian origin.
Taib, who was carrying a national identity card and was married to a Spanish woman, did not have a criminal record, according to preliminary inquiries.
International consultations were underway to determine whether the man had any criminal or terrorist connections elsewhere.
Police said the man approached the station shortly before 6am and, finding the door closed, rang on the intercom demanding to enter “in an insistent manner”.
When an officer opened the door, the alleged attacker launched himself upon him “with a clearly homicidal intent”, “mentioning Allah and other unidentifiable expressions”, Commissioner Comes said.
The agent then opened fire and shot dead the man, who was armed with a “knife of large dimensions”.
Neighbours were evacuated on Monday morning and explosives specialists were on standby as police entered the building where Taib lived, three streets away from the station.
The Barcelona-based daily El Periodico reported that Taib last week separated from his wife, a 40-year-old Spanish woman who works in the hotel industry, citing neighbours of the couple.
According to the newspaper, the pair married after meeting two years ago and his wife, named only as Lucy, converted to Islam.
Sources close to the couple told El Periodico they had separated because Taib had "lost his head", and that it had been agreed that he would move out of the family home at the end of August.