Terrorism: Spanish police identify killer driver, extends dragnet across Europe

Younes Abouyaaqoub has been identified as the driver of the vehicle that killed 15 people in Barcelona
Younes Abouyaaqoub has been identified as the driver of the vehicle that killed 15 people in Barcelona
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Police in Spain have confirmed the identity of the suspected driver of the van which ploughed into dozens of people in last week’s Barcelona attack.

Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, could be armed, officials say, and the manhunt has been extended across Europe.

New CCTV footage from the day of the attack appears to show him fleeing the scene on foot.

Officials have raised the death toll from the Barcelona attack and the later one in the resort of Cambrils to 15.

Thirteen people were killed in the first attack on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas avenue.

Hours later, a woman died in Cambrils when a car was driven into pedestrians. Five suspected jihadists were killed at the scene by police.

Officials have now confirmed a 15th victim, stabbed to death in his car on the outskirts of Barcelona by Abouyaaqoub, police say, as the suspect fled on foot and hijacked the vehicle.

At a news conference on Monday, officials also revealed there were “strong indications” that an imam suspected of radicalising the young men who carried out the attacks had died in an explosion at a house that was being used as a bomb factory.

All victims identified

Images published by El Pais show Abouyaaqoub walking through La Boqueria market, wearing sunglasses, as he passes other people heading away from Las Ramblas.

Police also released more images of Abouyaaqoub, and appealed for help in finding him.

The Catalan government named the 15th victim as Pau Pérez, 34, from Vila Franca, who was found stabbed in the passenger seat of his vehicle on Thursday evening.

Catalan officials said on Monday that all 15 victims had now been identified and their families notified.

On Sunday, Catalan police chief Josep Lluís Trapero said that of 12 suspects, only one – assumed to be Abouyaaqoub – remained at large.

In addition to the five killed in Cambrils, he said four others were under arrest and there were two sets of human remains to be identified at the house that blew up in the town of Alcanar, south of Barcelona, last Wednesday night.

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On Monday, police said they believed Imam Abdelbaki Es Satty was one of those who died in the house explosion at Alcanar.

Family members of the dead suspects said they believed Es Satty had radicalised several young people in their home town of Ripoll, north of Barcelona.

Spanish media outlets say Es Satty had spent some time in prison, and had met prisoners involved or linked with the 2004 Madrid train bombings in which 191 people died.

He had also stayed in Belgium for some three months last year, where he had been searching for work, including in Vilvoorde, a small town of just 42,000 from which more than 20 jihadists departed for Syria in 2014.

An official who works on de-radicalisation in Belgium has told the BBC that Es Satty tried to secure a post at a mosque near Brussels but the elders decided he should not be allowed to preach due to his “radicalised and polarising” approach.

The mosque asked police to perform a background security check but this did not throw up any specific areas of concern.

El Mundo said that one of those killed in Cambrils, Said Aallaa, had left a note in his room apologising for the harm he was about to cause.

The group had apparently been planning three co-ordinated attacks using home-made bombs. Police found about 120 gas canisters at the Alcanar site.

French media also report that the vehicle used in Cambrils had been caught on speed cameras in France’s Essonne region the previous week. But a direct link between the group of attackers in Spain and the car’s appearance in France has not yet been established.

So-called Islamic State (IS) said it had carried out the Las Ramblas and Cambrils attacks, though it is not clear whether any of the attackers were directly connected to the group or simply inspired by it.

 


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