Three suspected al-Qaeda members arrested in possession of explosives were planning an attack on European soil, the Spanish interior minister said Thursday.

Authorities found "clear indications" the trio was plotting to strike in Spain or another European country, Jorge Fernández Diaz told a press conference in Madrid.

He described two of the three suspects as "extremely dangerous persons" who were the "operational" elements of the cell.

Security forces had earlier identified the two men as Chechens and the third suspect as a Turkish national who acted as a "facilitator."

The Turk was detained at a residence in the southern province of Cadiz where police found explosives.

Police apprehended the two Chechens in Almuradiel, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Madrid, as they were traveling by bus from Cadiz to the northern city of Irun, on the French border.

The quantity of explosives seized would have been sufficient to "destroy a bus," Fernandez Diaz said.

One of the two Chechen suspects occupied an important position in al-Qaeda and has experience in bomb-making, the interior minister said.

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