10,000 police to safeguard Spanish royal wedding
30 April 2004
MADRID – More than 10,000 police officers will be deployed around the Spanish capital and the airspace over the city will be closed in a massive security operation to safeguard the wedding of Crown Prince Felipe and former television news presenter Letizia Ortiz, it was reported Friday.
Among the officers who will be seconded from units from around the country will be snipers, explosives experts, anti-riot police and agents specialised in searching for bombs beneath the city streets.
During the wedding and gala banquet following the nuptials on 22 May, the airspace over Madrid will be closed to all air traffic, including scheduled passenger flights, and the skies will be patrolled by Spanish Air Force F-18s, officials quoted in press reports said.
Security officials and the royal household were working out the exact details of the operation, which was almost completed by late February.
But authorities became spooked at the possibility of a terrorist attack targeting the wedding after two members of the armed Basque separatist group ETA, captured while transporting 500 kilos of explosives to Madrid, told interrogators they had planned to blow up electrical power facilities to cause a city-wide blackout during the celebrations.
Then came the terrorist savagery of 11 March, and officials decided to revamp the entire plan to ensure that Islamic radicals would not use the opportunity to stage an attack while the world’s attention was focused on the wedding to be attended by kings, prime ministers, presidents and other important figures.
Still to be decided is the exact route the wedding procession will take through the city before or after the Prince and Letizia exchange vows at the Almudena Cathedral just beside the Royal Palace. According to officials, two possible routes are being studied, and the one which is finally decided upon will not be announced until shortly before the wedding day.
Police said they believed the operation will be the largest of its kind since the Middle East peace conference was held at the Royal Palace in 1992.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news