Spain’s Interior Ministry has ruled out any jihadist motive behind an incident on Tuesday, which saw a 29-year-old man holding a large knife and shouting, “God is great” and “Al Hoceima, freedom!” – a reference to ongoing anti-government protests in that city – overpowered and arrested by police at the Beni Enzar crossing between the Spanish exclave of Melilla and Morocco.
Spanish authorities said that the man’s actions were not motivated by jihadist sympathies and attributed his behavior to mental health problems.
The Spanish authorities said that the man’s actions were the result of mental health problems
The incident took place at 7.45am, at a moment when the control point was very busy. The man was described by a witness as carrying a “ham knife,” given its large dimensions, and he threatened officers at the border control.
A quick-thinking police officer can be seen in a video from the crossing using a plastic traffic barrier to hit the man on the back of the head.
“They took about three minutes to overpower him, using their batons and a shield,” the same witness reported.
One of the officers suffered light injuries to one of his fingers during the incident.
The assailant has been placed under arrest but is yet to be identified. He is thought to be of Moroccan nationality.
Other police sources said the same man had caused a similar incident a few days earlier in the same spot after he tried to cross the border without identity papers. On that occasion he was not armed and was sent back to Morocco.
English version by Nick Lyne.