Catalan police have received a warning of a possible terrorist threat in Barcelona to which they give "medium" credibility, as the ACN news agency and El Periódico have reported. Catalonia's Mossos d'Esquadra police force, which is maintaining the anti-terrorist alert at level 4 out of 5, has shared the information it has with the Barcelona city police, the Guardia Urbana. On Sunday, the United States issued a travel advisory in which it asked US citizens in Barcelona to "exercise heightened caution" in areas with movement of vehicles and buses, especially in the vicinity of the Rambla, because of the possibility of an attack over the Christmas holiday period. The newspaper El Periódico reports that the warning includes the possibility that there might be an attempt to commit a vehicle attack with a bus in Barcelona on December 25th.
Police sources told ACN that the Mossos are studying the veracity of the warning. The US consulate in Barcelona warns in its alerts that "terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, and other public areas". As the warning states, on the US State Department's 1-4 scale of travel advisories, the Spanish state is at level 2, which means travellers should take increased caution.
#Spain: 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. pic.twitter.com/MPGiZwMwxq— Travel - State Dept (@TravelGov) 23 de desembre de 2018
Search for Moroccan man
The Barcelona police have given instructions to officers which contain details of the person who "intends to try to commit a terrorist action on December 25th", the ACN agency reports. This man has the initials L.B. and is a bus driver from the Moroccan city of Casablanca. According to the information seen by ACN, he has all the required driving licences and therefore could use "buses, coaches or minibuses to commit attacks." The note is signed by Jesús Hernando Maldonado, a senior superintendent in the Guardia Urbana police.
The instructions also detail measures to be taken by the city police, such as taking maximum care with public security, reinforcing control and security measures in police stations and "maintaining an attitude of continuous vigilance", especially in places with "major concentrations" of people such as "La Rambla, Plaça Catalunya and surroundings, the Sagrada Família and other similar places". Police officers are also urged to pay special attention to large vehicles, make checks on coaches, buses and minibuses in the downtown area, employ vehicles to regulate traffic and report any suspected incidents.