Counter-terrorism operation in small Pyrenees town catches residents by surprise
Spanish Guardia Civil raided homes and cordoned off center of El Pont de Suert for 5 hours
The 5-hour counter-terrorism operation that took place Monday evening in the usually quiet village of El Pont de Suert, in the western Catalan Pyreenes, was the talk of the town on Tuesday morning.
Around 30 Spanish Guardia Civil officers raided homes and cordoned off the center of El Pont de Suert, which is known for being the capital of Catalonia's least-populated county, Alta Ribagorça.
Mayor José Antonio Toguet admitted he was "not used" to events such as these happening in his own town, and told the Catalan News Agency how he had witnessed around 15 Guardia Civil vehicles descend upon the town center.
A few dozen "heavily armed" officers then cordoned off the area surrounding Plaça Mercadal square, he recounted. At first they would not let residents in, but an hour into the operation they began to accompany those who lived in the cordoned-off area home.
Pere Escall, who owns a bar in the area that was cordoned off, explained how Guardia Civil officers "with guns" made patrons leave.
He said he then saw police enter a building. "We know the people who live there, but didn't think it warranted raising such a ruckus," he told a group of journalists.
"We were out on a walk," Florian, another Pont de Suert resident explained, "and then when we got back to the square they wouldn't let us through."
"It was surprising to see so many Guardia Civil officers," he said. "We'd never seen anything like this here before."
While nobody was arrested in El Pont de Suert, police sources confirmed one person had been detained in Zaragoza, in the neighboring region of Aragon, as part of the same operation to combat jihadism.
Some neighbors say they saw this same person being escorted into the building he lives in with his mother in El Port de Suert by police, who they claim they saw leaving the building with multiple boxes.