Barcelona: Spanish police expanded a manhunt on Saturday for a Moroccan man believed to be one of the perpetrators of twin terror attacks in Barcelona and another seaside resort that killed 14 and wounded around 100.
With the country in shock after two vehicles ploughed into crowds of pedestrians, Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said the cell behind the carnage claimed by the IS group had been “dismantled”.
Police were still hunting for 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub without confirming reports he was the driver who smashed a van into people on Barcelona’s busy Las Ramblas boulevard on Thursday.
Thirteen people died at the scene and scores more were injured in scenes of horror witnessed by terrified friends and relatives, with locals and tourists laying flowers, candles and teddies in their memory.
Investigators meanwhile were busy unravelling the terror cell of at least 12 young men — some of them teenagers — behind the Barcelona rampage and a second ramming attack with a car in the seaside town of Cambrils early on Friday. One woman was killed and six other people wounded in that attack, with police killing five “suspected terrorists” who were in the car and arresting four others.
Police also identified another three suspects linked to the attacks, two of whom are thought to have died in a blast on Wednesday night as they tried to make explosives at a house in Alcanar, a town some 200 kilometres south of Barcelona.
On Saturday, police searched the home of an imam in Ripoll, a small town further north at the foot of the Pyrenees where some of the suspects lived, his flatmate Nourddem said, without wanting to identify him.
The El Pais daily, quoting police sources, said the imam could be one of the dead in the explosion.
As the hunt for Abouyaaqoub gathers pace, Spanish police tipped off their French counterparts about a white van linked to the attacks that may have crossed the border, a French police source said.
The IS group had initially only claimed the Barcelona rampage, but on Saturday its propaganda agency Amaq said its “soldiers” had also carried out the attack in Cambrils.
Police in Catalonia said three of the suspects shot dead in Cambrils were Moroccan nationals, identifying them as Moussa Oukabir, 17, Said Aallaa, 18, and Mohamed Hychami, 24.
Moussa’s brother Driss is one of the four arrested. Back in Morocco, their father Said was in shock, with tears in his eyes when he was told of the news while at a wedding, surrounded by relatives.
“We’re under shock, completely devastated,” he said. — AFP