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Novelty buckle sparks fear at major Spanish railway stations

A novelty belt buckle designed in the style of a hand grenade prompted Spanish police to evacuate passengers from major railway stations in Barcelona and in Madrid on Wednesday after the suspicious object was detected inside a luggage item by security scanners, authorities said.

Regional police in Catalonia ordered passengers off two high-speed trains at Barcelona’s Sants railway station at around 8 a.m. and bomb disposal units were dispatched to the scene amid suspicions that a female passenger travelling to Madrid’s Atocha station was carrying an explosive device in her baggage, reports Efe news.

It transpired that the owner of the military-inspired accessory managed to board the train in Barcelona and was intercepted just after 10 a.m. upon her arrival in Madrid, where National Police ordered the partial evacuation of the Atocha station – which serves long-distance and suburban railway systems – as a precaution.

“Our agents carried out relevant checks at the Atocha station in Madrid and it turns out to be a false alarm,” the National Police later said in a statement on Twitter. “Everything has returned to normal.”

One high-speed train destined for Madrid and another for Paris were evacuated during the security operation in Barcelona.

The Mossos published an image of the scanned luggage item in which the grenade-shaped belt buckle was clearly visible.

Spain’s terror alert has been at set at the second-highest level in since 2015.

In August 2017, 16 people were killed in terror attacks in Catalonia.

On the afternoon of August 17, a 22-year-old assailant ran a van into pedestrians on the city’s iconic tree-lined La Rambla mall, killing 15 and injuring over 100 more in an attack allegedly inspired by the Islamic State terror organization.

It was the bloodiest terror attack on Spanish soil since the coordinated bombing attack at the Atocha train station that on March 11, 2004 killed 193 people.

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