Barcelona: Barcelona was on alert on Monday after the US State Department warned of the risk of a terrorist attack in Spain’s second-largest city during the Christmas holidays. “Exercise heightened caution around areas of vehicle movement, including buses, in the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona during Christmas and New Year’s. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, and other public areas,” the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs tweeted on Sunday.
About the warning during an interview with Rac1 radio on Monday, Catalonia’s regional interior minister Miquel Buch said police “were working on this threat”. “We take seriously all threats, all of them are investigated,” he added, without giving further details. Top-selling Spanish newspaper El Pais, citing anonymous police sources, said the authorities were looking for a 30-year-old Moroccan man with a licence to drive buses. Barcelona-based daily El Periodico de Catalunya said Catalan regional police had circulated an internal note the man could try to drive a bus into crowds in Barcelona.
Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for the regional police force in Catalonia did not confirm police were seeking a Moroccan man but said a “temporary reinforcement of security measures in areas of high concentration of people” was in place. Spain has kept terror alert unchanged at the second-highest level despite the US warning, though security steps were boosted in December for the Christmas period, a Spanish interior ministry said. On August 17, 2017, a van rammed into crowds on Barcelona’s tree-lined Las Ramblas boulevard, killing 14 people.