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Sagrada Família area cordoned off due to 'false terror alarm'
POLICE evacuated the area around Barcelona's iconic 20th-century Sagrada Família cathedral at 20.30 this evening (Tuesday) after a 'suspicious white van' was seen in the area, but have since confirmed it was a 'false alarm'.
After half an hour, the cordoned-off area was widened throughout the Eixample district, and Barcelona's metro Line 2 and Line 5 did not stop at the Sagrada Família station.
Catalunya's military police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, carried out stringent checks on all vehicles travelling into the city.
Although the terrorist cell which targeted pedestrians on the Ramblas in Barcelona and in Cambrils (Tarragona province) on August 17 has been disbanded with all its members either dead or in jail, their original plan was to target the Sagrada Família – one which, fortunately, was thwarted by the house in Alcanar (Tarragona) where the explosives were stored blowing up before the attacks – police were not prepared to take any chances.
Witnesses said the cathedral area was 'surrounded by police with machine guns' and two people were seen being led out of a van in handcuffs.
The Mossos, the city police – or Guardia Urbana – and several ambulances were said to be stationed in the vicinity, and residents returning home were not allowed into their houses if these were in the cordoned-off zone.
Those already indoors were ordered not to go outside.
The cathedral itself was full of tourists when it was evacuated, and the daily mass was being held in the crypt at the time.
Several shopkeepers and customers also had to leave their premises.
Around an hour after the evacuation began, police confirmed on Twitter that the situation was 'back to normal' and that its TEDAX explosives team had not found any dangerous devices or substances in the area.
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