SENIOR police officers have warned that they can’t properly protect Almerians against terrorism because their resources are being diverted to rescue and screen illegal immigrants.
The province is considered a potential hotbed of Islamic extremism, a place where jihadis both hide and enter continental Europe. National and Almerian police are fully aware of this and have made some spectacular arrests in the war on terror.
But with almost 600 immigrants arriving on the Almerian coastline in January and February alone, security agents simply don’t have the capacity to combat terrorism and rescue people stranded at sea. More than 5,000 people were rescued and brought to Motril and Almeria ports in 2016.
The Federal Police Union has said that the Almeria force is overwhelmed and suffers from a severe lack of personnel. This is at a time when the terror alert across Spain is at level four, the second highest.
The problem will only worsen in summer when thousands of North African immigrants are expected to arrive. With the Balkan countries closing their border to Syrian refugees, countless more will seek to reach Europe through Spain and Italy.
Now the situation is so severe that Almeria is considering opening a specialist detention centre for foreigners (CIE) to hold hundreds of people. The highly controversial internment centres are legally suspect and involve detaining people without charge for long periods.
Riots and protests have engulfed similar camps in Melilla and Murcia.