All posts by MalayMail

Police identify van driver of Barcelona rampage

BARCELONA — Spanish police said yesterday they have identified the driver of the van that mowed down pedestrians on the busy Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona, killing 13.

Police in Catalonia announced the identification on Twitter, without giving his name. But Catalonia’s regional interior minister Joaquim Forn told local radio that “everything suggests the van driver is Younes Abouyaaqoub”.

The 22-year-old Moroccan remains at large, and police said they did not know if he was still in Spain.

“We don’t know where he is,” regional police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said.

Spanish authorities hoped to identify all the victims of the deadly attacks in Catalonia and the members of the terror cell behind it, as a manhunt deepened for the one suspect still at large.

Investigators believe the terror cell comprised at least 12 men, some of them teenagers. An imam, Abdelbaki Es Satty, 40, is among the suspects, believed to have radicalised youths in Ripoll, a small town at the foot of the Pyrenees, where several suspects — including Abouyaaqoub — grew up or lived.

Spanish media said the imam had spent time in prison. El Pais and El Mundo said he had met prisoners linked to the al-Qaeda-inspired bombing of Madrid trains that killed 191 people in March 2004, the worst terror attack in Europe.

On Saturday, police raided his apartment. They have raised the possibility that he died in an explosion on Wednesday evening at a house believed to be the suspects’ bomb-making factory, where police uncovered a cache of 120 gas canisters.

The suspected militants been preparing bombs for “one or more attacks in Barcelona”, regional police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said, revealing that traces of triacetone triperoxide — a homemade explosive that is an Islamic State hallmark — had also been found. — AFP