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Suspected Driver in Barcelona Attack May Be Alive, on the Run

  • VOA News

People gather at a memorial tribute of flowers, messages and candles to the victims on Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas promenade on the Joan Miro mosaic, embedded in the pavement where the van stopped after killing at least 14 people in Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 18, 2017.

The driver in Thursday's van attack in Barcelona, Spain, may still be alive, and Spanish police are searching for him.

Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaquob, 22, is now suspected to be the driver, Spanish media report. Abouyaaqoub lived in Ripoll, north of Barcelona, where three people were arrested.

On Friday, Moussa Oukabir, who was one of five men killed in Cambrils in a shootout with police, was said to be a key suspect in the Barcelona terrorist attack in Spain, perhaps the drive of the van.

Reports said Friday that 17-year-old Oukabir was on a list of five suspects killed in the seaside town of Cambrils, hours after a van plowed into a crowd in Barcelona Thursday, killing at least 13 people and injuring dozens more.

Driss Oukabir
Driss Oukabir

After speeding along a pedestrian section of Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s most famous street, the driver got out of the vehicle and fled the scene.

Later, in Cambrils, the suspects drove a car into pedestrians, killing one woman and injuring at least six other people. The attackers exited their vehicle and were fired upon by police. The men were wearing what appeared to be explosive belts, but they turned out to be fake.

Other suspects slain

In addition to Oukabir, police identified two other suspects killed in Cambrils as 18-year-old Said Aallaa and 24-year-old Mohamed Hychami. Police said they were searching for other suspects, including Abouyaaquob.

Oukabir is suspected of using his brother Driss’s identification to rent two vehicles for the attack — the van used in the attack and another, found later in the nearby town of Vic, that is believed to have been intended as a getaway vehicle.

An armed policeman stands on the spot where terrorist were shot by police in Cambrils, Spain, Aug. 18, 2017.
An armed policeman stands on the spot where terrorist were shot by police in Cambrils, Spain, Aug. 18, 2017.

Driss Oukabir was arrested Thursday about 100 kilometers north of Barcelona, in the town of Ripoll.

Spain’s royal family has released a statement expressing support for the people targeted in the attacks.

“They are assassins, criminals who won’t terrorize us. All of Spain is Barcelona,” Spain’s royal family said in statement.

King Felipe of Spain, center, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, center left, and Catalonia regional President Carles Puigdemont, center right, join people gathered for a minute of silence in memory of the terrorist attacks victims in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain.
King Felipe of Spain, center, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, center left, and Catalonia regional President Carles Puigdemont, center right, join people gathered for a minute of silence in memory of the terrorist attacks victims in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain.

Other incidents

Police believe the attacks also are connected to an explosion Wednesday in a house in Catalonia that killed one person. Authorities suspect the people in the house were building an explosive device to be used in a terrorist attack.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the deadly Barcelona rampage.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the van attack “jihadist terrorism.”

“Today, the fight against terrorism is the principal priority for free and open societies like ours. It is a global threat and the response has to be global,” Rajoy told reporters.

People gather at a memorial tribute of flowers, messages and candles to the victims on Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas promenade on the Joan Miro mosaic, embedded in the pavement where the van stopped after killing at least 13 people in Barcelona , Spain.
People gather at a memorial tribute of flowers, messages and candles to the victims on Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas promenade on the Joan Miro mosaic, embedded in the pavement where the van stopped after killing at least 13 people in Barcelona , Spain.

Thousands observed a minute of silence Friday in Barcelona’s main square for the victims of the two vehicular attacks.

Spain’s king and prime minister attended the observance at Barcelona’s Placa de Catalunya. Rajoy also declared three days of national mourning.

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

Victims from across Europe, US

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Friday that 26 French citizens were among those injured in Barcelona. He said 11 are in serious condition. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, however, said in a radio interview that “the number of those who have been seriously injured may perhaps be even higher at around 17.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed that at least one American citizen was killed in the attacks, though he noted that Washington is “still confirming the deaths and injuries.”

“We offer our thoughts and prayers to their families,” Tillerson said.

The State Department later confirmed that another American was injured in the attack but did not release details.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said two Italians were killed in the van attack.

“Italy remembers Bruno Gulotta and Luca Russo and gathers tight around their families. Freedom will conquer the barbarianism of terrorism,” he said.

Van Runs Over People in Barcelona

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