Wednesday 21 March 2018

Five suspects killed in hours following Barcelona atrocity

People gather around tributes laid on Las Ramblas yesterday after a minute’s silence for the victims. Photo: Getty Images
People gather around tributes laid on Las Ramblas yesterday after a minute’s silence for the victims. Photo: Getty Images

Danny Boyle and Barney Henderson in Barcelona

The Spanish terror suspects had been planning even bigger attacks, police have revealed as they continue a massive hunt for the rampaging van driver who ploughed into a crowd in Barcelona.

Authorities are in a race against time to find the driver who left 13 people dead and more than 100 wounded on Las Ramblas yesterday afternoon.

People help an injured woman lying on the ground. Photo: Reuters
People help an injured woman lying on the ground. Photo: Reuters

Around 70 miles away in the seaside town of Cambrils, five terrorists wearing fake suicide belts were shot dead by police early on Friday after ramming pedestrians with a car in a second attack. One female civilian died and six other people, including a police officer, were injured.

An Irish-Filipino family were injured in the attack on Las Ramblas. Norman Potot (45) from Ballsbridge Co Dublin was on holiday with his wife, Pederlita Fernandez Potot (39) and their two children Nailah Pearl Potot (9) and Nathaniel Paul Potot (5) when the tragedy occurred.

Meanwhile, Spanish police have revealed that the suspects had been preparing even bigger attacks in Barcelona "for some time". Local media reports the suspects were intending to put the gas canisters in a car for the attack.

Catalan regional police official Josep Lluis Trapero told reporters yesterday that Wednesday's blast at a house in Alcanar, a further 55 miles down the coast, meant the attacks were more "rudimentary" than planned.

Armed police patrolling the area yesterday. Photo: AP
Armed police patrolling the area yesterday. Photo: AP

He said: "We are working on the hypothesis that these attacks were being prepared for a while around this private home in Alcanar.

"We think they were preparing at least one or more attacks in Barcelona.


"The explosion in Alcanar at least avoided some of the material they were counting on to carry out even bigger attacks than the ones that happened. Because of that the attack in Barcelona and the one in Cambrils were carried out in a bit more rudimentary way than the one they had initially planned."

Dramatic video footage has emerged of one of the Cambrils terrorists, who taunted and smiled at police, being repeatedly shot in a scene described by witnesses as being like "watching a horror film".

Police sources have named the suspected Barcelona van driver they are hunting as 18-year-old Moussa Oukabir. He is suspected of using his brother's documents to rent the van that mowed down people on the famous boulevard.

Investigators revealed that a 12-strong terror cell thought to have been behind the two Spanish attacks is believed to have been planning an atrocity with gas canisters.


In Cambrils, holidaymakers ran for their lives as gunfire broke out close to the beachfront promenade early on Friday. A British tourist told how families and residents were ordered to take cover as bullets tore through the air.

The attackers' Audi A3 overturned and the men were fired upon by police when they got out. At least one was brandishing a knife. Police said the attackers had been wearing explosive belts, which experts later concluded were fake.

In a chilling echo of the London Bridge attack in June, Catalonia president Carles Puigdemont said the five terrorists in the Cambrils car were wearing fake suicide belts when they were stopped.

Police revealed that an axe and knives were also found in the vehicle, with one of the latter used to wound one person in the face before the terrorists were gunned down.

Investigators are working on the theory that the attacks in Cambrils and Barcelona are linked to a gas explosion at a house in the town of Alcanar on Wednesday that killed one person.

A major manhunt for the driver of the van that mowed down holidaymakers and locals on Las Ramblas - a popular tourist road in Barcelona - is continuing after he fled unarmed.

Four people have so far been arrested over the attack, including Driss Oukabir, the elder brother of van driver suspect Moussa Oukabir.

The second arrested man, a Spanish national from Melilla, has not been named. The third person, who was arrested in the Spanish city of Ripoll on Friday morning, is believed to be an associate of Oukabir.

The third arrested man could have been the driver of a car that drove into a police checkpoint on Thursday night, investigators believe. A fourth person was arrested, also in Ripoll, on Friday, police confirmed. Moussa is believed to still be unaccounted for.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has claimed responsibility for the attack, the deadliest on Spanish soil since more than 190 people died in the Madrid train bombs in 2004.

Of the 130 people injured in both attacks, 17 were in a critical condition and 30 were serious, an emergency services spokesman said.

A judicial source said investigators believed a cell of at least eight people, possibly 12, may have been involved in the Barcelona and Cambrils operations.

As Spain began three days of mourning, people laid flowers and lit candles in memory of the victims along the promenade. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Spain's King Felipe visited Barcelona's main square nearby to observe a minute's silence.

Defiant crowds later chanted "I am not afraid" in Catalan.

Islamist militants have staged several attacks across Europe in the past 13 months, killing more than 100 people in Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm. In March 2004, Islamist militants placed bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people.

Irish Independent

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