MADRID, April 25 (Xinhua) — The Catalan police force of Spain confirmed Tuesday that it has detained eight people in an operation against a group linked to jihadist terrorism in the Barcelona region in Northeast Spain.
The operation, which came after the eight-month cooperation with Belgian authorities, included a series of raids carried out at 4:30 am local time (0330 GMT) in Barcelona and the surrounding towns of L’Hospitalet de LLobregat, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Cornella de LLobregat and Masquefa y Ripollet.
The eight detainees were identified as “Moroccans” aged between 31 and 39 years.
The investigation began eight months ago after the police received pieces of unconnected information from citizens, which showed the existence of an organized group with links to both jihadist terrorism and organized crime.
The exchange of information between the Spanish and Belgian authorities led to the uncovering of these links.
In an interview with Catalan TV, Josep Lluis Trapero, the commander of the local police, noted the detainees had a “clear membership” of the Islamic State, and that investigation could help find the chief plotters of the terrorist attacks that hit Belgium and France.
“It’s possible they (the detainees) have not just been in Belgium, but also in other European cities,” Trapero said, adding that Wednesday’s operation was “clearly the most important we have carried out up to now.”