Spain police arrest eight suspected of Islamist militant activity

Spanish police stand guard outside an apartment building during a sweeping operation at some 12 locations against Islamist militants, in which eight people were arrested, in Barcelona, Spain, April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Spanish police in the northeastern city of Barcelona have arrested eight people and raided 12 properties in a sweeping operation against Islamist militants, police said on Tuesday.

The detained were all Moroccans aged between 21 and 39, the police said.

The investigation and operation were carried out in conjunction with Belgian police, they said in a statement. A police spokesman declined to say what connection the arrested had with Belgium.

The raids follow an eight-month investigation in which the police observed a group which they said was associated with Islamist militants and had links to organised crime in the Barcelona area.

Spain has arrested some 22 people in 16 separate operations this year in connection with Islamist extremism, according to Interior Ministry figures.

(Reporting by Sonya Dowsett; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)