MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish and Moroccan police have arrested nine people suspected of belonging to a militant cell linked to Islamic State, including the leader of the cell, Spain’s Interior Ministry said on Friday.
The ministry said the nine belonged to a group based in the Spanish enclave of Melilla on the northern coast of Africa and neighbouring Nador in Morocco.
The leader of the group was of Spanish nationality, born in Morocco and resident in Melilla, the ministry said. The rest were Moroccan nationals, according to Spanish press reports.
Those arrested had coordinated training with groups linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) in northern Mali and worked with the leader’s brother, a former Spanish soldier and weapons and explosives specialist, the ministry said.
Another two men were arrested in Britain on Friday as part of an operation into extremist-related militancy, as lawmakers prepared to approve Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to join US-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq.
The two men, who were not named, were arrested on the M6 motorway in England by counter-terrorism officers, bringing the total number of people detained in the British operation to 11 in two days.
Spain is supporting a coalition to fight Islamic State but has not taken an active role militarily.