Spain knife attacker was gay and suicidal: probe source

Special forces searched the attacker's apartment after he lunged at officers with a large knife at a police station near Barcelona

A man shot dead as he attacked a Spanish police station had come out as gay and wanted to commit suicide, a source close to the probe said Tuesday based on testimony of the assailant's ex-wife.

Abdel Wahab Taib, a 29-year-old Algerian man, invoked the name of Allah during the assault early Monday in the town of Cornella de Llobregat near Barcelona.

Authorities are treating the incident as a "terrorist attack" although the source, who refused to be named, said "there don't appear to be any signs of jihadism."

According to the source, Taib's ex-wife, a Spaniard who reportedly converted to Islam after meeting him, told police he had recently told her he was homosexual.

"She said they had separated, that he had revealed his homosexuality and that he was disturbed about how that fit in with the Muslim religion," the source said.

"We're putting this down to confusion, a suicide attempt. There are some who do it throwing themselves off a bridge, he opted for this method.

"We're basing ourselves on his wife's testimony, who says he had not veered towards extremism."

- Large knife -

David Martinez, the ex-wife's lawyer, told reporters the couple had signed divorce papers last Tuesday and ruled out a terror-related motivation for the attack.

Speaking to Spanish radio on Tuesday, however, Catalonia's regional interior minister Miquel Buch made clear that "for now, it's a terrorist attack according to the information we have."

Taib arrived at the police station in Cornella de Llobregat at 5:45 am (0345 GMT) on Monday and repeatedly pressed the buzzer to be let in, Rafel Comes, a commissioner with the Catalan regional police told reporters.

After police let him in, the man pulled out a "large knife" and lunged at officers in "a clearly premeditated desire to kill," Comes said on Monday.

"The officer used her gun to save her own life," he said, indicating the attacker had shouted "Allah" along with other words the police did not understand.

"These are enough indication to treat the events being investigated as a terrorist attack," he said.