Prime minister António Costa has stressed that Portugal’s ‘threat level’ remains unaltered following yesterday’s deadly terror attack in Barcelona in which 13 people were killed and as many as 100 injured.
Telling journalists that Portugal’s “services” have been in touch with Spanish authorities and “at this point in time, there is no indication that justifies the alteration of the country’s threat level”, he did however allude to the President’s rubber-stamping of a very important new law four days ago.
The promulgation of a ‘diploma’ allowing Portuguese secret services access to telecommunications’ ‘metadata’ has been, elsewhere in Europe, a “very important tool in stymying terror attacks”.
In 2015, the bid to give Portuguese secret services access to client metadata was vetoed by PS Socialists voting with the PSD and CDS.
But this week it has been passed, with favourable votes by PCP communists, the PEV (Greens) and Bloco de Esquerda.
Costa meantime has joined the President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in condemning yet more carnage with the use of a rented van, and offering “total solidarity” to the Spanish people.
In a joint message of condolence, they said: “We also consider that it is important to reiterate on this terrible occasion the importance of a united Europe in the combat of terrorism and the constant and permanent defence of the values of democracy, the promotion of peace and the respect for human rights”.
Portugal’s message was sent both to Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, and the King of Spain Felipe VI.
Meantime, consular authorities have said that there is no indication that any Portuguese people were involved in yesterday’s terror (see update) in which a white van entered the iconic pedestrian shopping street Las Ramblas, and began a high-speed zig-zag path through throngs of people.
Holidaymaker Ricardo Matos was caught up in the mayhem, arriving at Las Ramblas in a taxi with his family, intent on finding a hotel.
He has told RTP how from ‘one minute to the next there was panic’.
“Everything went grey”, he said. “People were screaming. We didn’t know what was happening”.
Police intervention, however, was “extremely rapid”, he added, as the rest of the day’s terrible events have been playing out over the world’s media.
A Portuguese grandmother and her granddaughter are being sought following the Las Rambelas attack. According to CMTV, relatives fear they may have been among the victims. (see story to come).