Two suspects in the Barcelona terror attack spent time in Switzerland in 2016, say Spanish police.
On Sunday, the Federal Police Office confirmed to the Swiss News Agency that at least one of the attackers had stayed in Zurich near the end of 2016. The information was first reported by Spanish media and relayed by the Swiss Tages Anzeiger newspaper. Spanish police say that two suspects, now deceased, were in Zurich.
“It is not possible for now to say if the perpetrators had a link with Switzerland and, if so, what it might be,” said Cathy Maret, spokesperson for the Federal Police Office, in a statement.
Checks in Switzerland were carried out following exchanges with the Spanish authorities, as is always in the case of events of this kind, Maret said.
On Thursday evening, a van weaved its way into the pedestrian boulevard of Las Ramblas, which is very popular with tourists, killing 14 people and injuring around 100. Tourists from 18 nationalities were hurt or killed. According to the foreign ministry, there is no indication so far that a Swiss national has been affected.
The Islamic State-backed attack was followed by another one at the coastal town of Cambrils, 120km south of Barcelona. Police say the attackers drove a car into pedestrians injuring seven, including a police officer. Five of the attackers – some of whom were wearing explosive vests – were shot and killed by the police.
On Friday, Swiss President Doris Leuthard strongly condemned the Islamic State attack in Barcelona in which 14 people were killed when a van drove into a crowd.
“Once again a cowardly act of terror has been carried out in Europe. Switzerland condemns this in the strongest terms – as it always condemns violence driven by hatred and fanaticism. My thoughts are with the victims of the attack and their loved ones,” said Leuthard, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year.
Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter also expressed his condolences to the Spanish people and government.
The Swiss Federal Intelligence Service and Federal Police Office said they would remain vigilant against any attempted copycat attacks within Switzerland. The Swiss authorities are in contact with Spanish counterparts.
The Swiss News Agency reported tight security arrangements around open air festivals last weekend, particularly an event in St Gallen expected to attract crowds of around 60,000.
swissinfo.ch and agencies