Terrorist cell ‘dismantled’ but killer van driver still on the run
Tdown pedestrians on Las Ramblas is still on the run.
Last night, authorities said Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan, has yet to be traced following the terror attack. However, at a press conference yesterday, Spanish interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido de- clared police have broken the “terrorist cell from Barcelona” after five members were killed, four were in detention and two were almost certainly killed in an explosion. He said no new attacks were imminent, and that security forces will be maintaining the country’s terrorist threat alert at level four – one notch below the highest level. Security at events and tourist sites around the country will also be reinforced.
Catalan Police spokesman Albert Oliva later confirmed a manhunt is under way for any remaining members of the Islamic extremist cell, with the search focused on Abouyaaqoub. He said officers have carried out nine searches of properties in Ripoll, the northern Catalan town where Abouyaaqoub and other suspects lived. Abouyaaqoub has been named in Spanish media as the suspected driver of the van, which was used in the massacre on Las Ramblas that left 13 dead and nearly 130 injured. A 14th victim was killed in a follow-up in the town of Cambrils.
Another suspect, Moussa Oukabir, who is thought to have rented the van, was among five men shot dead as they launched the second attack in the coastal town of Cambrils in the early hours of Friday. Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks.
The teenager, said to be 17 or 18 years old, is suspected of using his brother’s documents to hire the vehicle that ploughed into pedestrians in the tourist hotspot on Thursday evening.
He reportedly died along with Said Aallaa, 19, and Mohamed Hychami, 24, who were part of a group that mounted a similar attack in Cambrils that left one woman dead and six people injured. The identities of the other jihadists shot dead in Cambrils are yet to be confirmed by police. Four men, aged 21, 27, 28 and 34, who were arrested in connection with the attack remain in custody.
Three are Moroccan and one Spanish, and police said none of them was previously known to the security services for terror-related reasons.
Moussa Oukabir’s older brother, Driss Oukabir, is reported to be one of those detained. Said Oukabir, the father of the Oukabir brothers, said he was “in shock” that his sons were suspected of involvement in the attacks. His sons had shown no sign of radicalisation, he added.
Some 34 nationalities were among almost 130 people wounded in the attacks in Las Ramblas and in Cambrils. Authorities said 54 people injured are still in hospital, with 12 in a critical condition and 25 in a serious condition.
It comes after police revealed the terrorists behind the rampage were preparing bigger attacks, with a suspected gas explosion on Wednesday at a house in Alcanar believed to have robbed the killers of materials to use in larger-scale operations. Two terrorists are believed to have died in the explosion.
Police carry out bags after a search of a building in Ripoll, north of Barcelona, hometown of the attack suspects