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Police Still Searching for Ringleader in Barcelona Terror Attack

  • VOA News

Armed Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra officers patrol along La Barceloneta beach in Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 19, 2017

Police in Spain and France continued their search Saturday for a 22-year-old Moroccan national whom they believe is at the center of Thursday’s terror attack in Barcelona.

Police believe Younes Abouyaaqoub to be the leader of a 12-person jihadist terror cell responsible for the van ramming attack that killed 13 people and left more than 130 others injured.

A combo of handout images released by the Catalan regional police "Mossos D'Esquadra" on August 18, 2017 shows four suspects of the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks, (from top L) Moussa Oukabir, Said Aalla, Mohamed Hychami and Younes Abouyaaqoub.
A combo of handout images released by the Catalan regional police "Mossos D'Esquadra" on August 18, 2017 shows four suspects of the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks, (from top L) Moussa Oukabir, Said Aalla, Mohamed Hychami and Younes Abouyaaqoub.

Though Abouyaaqoub is still on the run, Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido called the terror cell “broken,” with five of its members killed by police, four more in police custody and at least two more killed earlier in the week in an accidental explosion.

The four jihadists arrested by police are between the ages of 21 and 34, and all but one of them are Moroccan. The other is Spanish.

He said he doesn’t believe another terror attack to be imminent.

Injured people are treated in Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 17, 2017 after a van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists.
Injured people are treated in Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 17, 2017 after a van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists.

A total of 14 people were killed in the twin terror attacks — 13 in Barcelona and one in Cambrils, where a car was driven into a crowd of pedestrians before police shot and killed the five suspects after they left the vehicle.

Spanish media had reported that one of the suspects shot to death in Cambrils, 17-year-old Moussa Oukabir, was believed to be the driver of the van in Barcelona. But during an interview with local TV late Friday, a police official said it appeared unlikely that Oukabir drove the van.

Police officers speak near an overturned car at the spot where terrorists were intercepted by police in Cambrils, Spain, Aug. 18, 2017.
Police officers speak near an overturned car at the spot where terrorists were intercepted by police in Cambrils, Spain, Aug. 18, 2017.

Moussa Oukabir’s older brother, Driss Oukabir, is reportedly one of the jihadists detained by police.

Police also believe that the group may have had a larger attack planned, but an accidental explosion at a home suspected of being used by members of the group may have thwarted the plot.

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