Barcelona police declare incident near landmark basilica a "false alarm"

A Catalan flag hangs on La Sagrada Familia during the Catalan National Day on September 11, 2017, in Barcelona, Spain.

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Last Updated Sep 12, 2017 4:09 PM EDT

BARCELONA, Spain -- Police in Barcelona say no explosives were found in a suspicious van parked in the surroundings of the landmark Sagrada Familia cathedral.

Authorities declared the incident a "false alarm" after explosives experts searched the van during an anti-terrorism operation.

The Reuters news agency reports that police announced on Twitter that there were no arrests and the area returned to normal.

A spokesman with the Mossos d'Esquadra regional police said the church was evacuated and several streets were cordoned off to allow police work in the area.

The spokesman declined to be identified by name, following the force's protocol.

Barcelona, a tourism hub in northeast Spain's Catalonia region, and a nearby coastal town were targets of extremist attacks that killed 16 people last month. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed the attacks.

Spain has kept its anti-terrorism security warning one level below the maximum since mid-2015.

Check back for updates on this developing story.