Beach in Barcelona evacuated after explosive device found in water

BARCELONA: A beach in Barcelona was evacuated on Sunday after police found an explosive device in the water that appeared to be old, possibly dating back some 80 years to the Spanish Civil War, a Civil Guard spokeswoman said.
Police established a security perimeter of 250 metres around the device off the Sant Sebastia beach, one of Barcelona’s most popular beaches.
Navy specialists will arrive on Monday to deactivate the device, which could date back to the 1936-1939 Civil War, the spokeswoman said, adding the closure would remain in place until the area is made safe.
The device, located at a depth of 3 metres and 25 metres from the shore, was found by an off-duty police diver who happened to be swimming in the area, she added.
Tourism hotspot Barcelona is also alarmed by surge in surge in muggings and burglaries, mainly targeting tourists, leading local residents to form their own crime-fighting patrols.
The US consulate in Barcelona last week urged its nationals not to “display signs of wealth such as wearing expensive jewellery or watches”.
The alert came just days after Afghanistan’s ambassador to Spain was lightly injured in a group mugging to steal his watch in the city centre, and a 91-year-old French woman was hospitalised after thieves yanked her necklace, causing her to fall.
Barcelona, a European tourist hotspot, has recorded eight murders since July, an unusually high number for the Mediterranean seaside city, and in June a visiting South Korean public servant died from injuries she suffered during a mugging.
The city’s hotel association has warned that Barcelona’s reputation could be “seriously harmed”.
Albert Batlle, Barcelona’s deputy mayor in charge of security, acknowledged there was a
“security crisis” but called for a “calm and responsible analysis” of the problem.
Thefts and violent robberies in Barcelona, a city of 1.6 million residents, jumped by 28 per cent between 2016 and 2018, according to police figures.
City hall recently boosted its crime-fighting budget and the regional government has deployed more officers to the city, including anti-riot units.
But according to police only one in 10 people arrested for violent robberies in 2018 and 2019 went to prison.
In response, some locals have organised “citizen patrols” to fight crime.
Carrying signs in different languages they tour the city and metro stations, warning of pickpockets.
When they spot a suspected thief they blow whistles and shout “leave pickpocket!” until the person goes away.
“You see so much insecurity, so much anxiety, that you say: ‘Either we do something to save Barcelona or it will turn into a South American city’,” said Eliana Guerrero, a member of one of the patrols who is originally from Colombia. — Reuters

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