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Behind olive trees, Spain terror cell’s bomb factory

“They were very discreet, too discreet. The shutters were closed, there was no music, no children, no women,” she recalled.

“Sometimes they stay just two days and they leave. They said hello to me but never looked me in the eye,” added the 61-year-old retiree.

She only caught glimpses of the men next door, but said she was able to identify two of the suspects in photos published in the media after the attacks.

But a friend who suffered cuts to his face in the explosion, had told her to stay out of it.

Eliane Fernandez, who was also there on Wednesday night, said “the boom” of the explosion still resonates, but did want to talk further.

– ‘Lights on all night’ –

Groby described the men as “Arab types”, and said one of them had a moustache.

Only her husband and her daughter has seen the one “who wears a beard”, she said.

“They were often on the terrace. From up there, they must have been watching the road,” she said, sighing that it was only now that she is piecing together all the clues about her neighbours.

Groby also recalled that the men often went out in pairs while the two others would stay behind at home.

They would either go on foot with backpacks, drive in and out in a white Kangoo van, or use two motorcycles.

They would also “move in a manner so that I am unable to see what they are unloading,” she said.

“One time, I managed to see them unloading a freezer,” she recalled.

“My father who’s a former police officer had told me they are terrorists. He told me to take photos and write down their licence plates.

“He found these daily to and fro trips strange. I didn’t want to believe him,” she said.

But as she began hearing noises of metal scraping in July and started seeing lights on at all times of the day, she began to ask questions about the house.

She finally found out it belonged to a bank which had put it up for sale.

On Wednesday, shortly after 11 pm, as she and her family were clearing away dinner, she was flung to the floor.

“Suddenly it became all black. I had the impression that I was being burnt alive… I thought it was a nightmare. I didn’t know they were terrorists. I thought it was our gas canister that exploded,” she said.

That was also want police thought initially, until the jihadists embarked on their twin assaults along the coast a day later.

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