Sagrada Familia church
© Lluis Gene / AFP
Several blocks around the iconic Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona were sealed off by the police on Tuesday evening after complaints about a suspicious van parked outside.

Armed police searched bins, and told shopkeepers to close their businesses, as a bomb squad examined the vehicle. About an hour after news of the operation began filtering through to the media, police declared the incident a "false alarm."

Police said that there were two people inside the van, but that nobody was arrested.

At least 16 victims and eight suspected Islamic terrorists died in a series of attacks through the region of Catalonia last month. The worst of these happened in the city's main street of La Rambla, where a rented van mowed down pedestrians, killing 15 and injuring more than 130 others.

Local media reported that the attackers had planned to set off homemade explosive charges near the UNESCO-listed landmark, but were dissuaded when two of them died in an accidental blast days before the attack.