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Perpetrators of 2nd attack south of Barcelona killed, police say Printer friendly page Print This
By Staff Writers, AP
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Friday, Aug 18, 2017

Perpetrators of 2nd attack south of Barcelona killed, police say

Shootout south of Barcelona leaves several dead, connection with van attack unclear

The latest:
  • 13 dead, 100 injured in Barcelona van attack.
  • 2 suspects arrested in towns of Ripoll and Alcanar, neither believed to be the driver.
  • 2nd attack in Cambrils; 4 attackers killed in shootout with police, 5th injured and taken into custody.
  • House explosion in Alcanar Wednesday linked to Cambrils and Barcelona attacks.
Catalonia police said late Thursday night that several perpetrators of a terrorist attack were killed in a shootout with officers in the town of Cambrils, southwest of Barcelona. It was unclear how that incident was related to the van attack earlier in the day in Barcelona that left 13 people dead and more than 100 injured.

A spokesperson said police killed four attackers following an operation in the coastal town. A fifth was injured and taken into custody.

Earlier Thursday, a van veered onto a sidewalk and barrelled down a busy pedestrian zone in Barcelona's picturesque Las Ramblas district, swerving from side to side as it mowed down tourists and residents and turned the popular European vacation promenade into a bloody killing zone.

Victims were left sprawled in the street, spattered with blood or crippled by broken limbs. Others fled in panic, screaming or carrying young children in their arms.

Police surround the van that barrelled into pedestrians along the Las Ramblas promenade in Barcelona on Thursday. At least 13 people have died and more than 100 were injured in the attack. (Quique Garcia/EPA)

"It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible," Josep Lluis Trapero, senior police official, told a news conference late Thursday. The number of casualties was expected to rise.

Trapero, head of the Mossos d'Esquadra, said two suspects were in custody — a Moroccan and a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa — but that neither of them was believed to be the driver of the van. Trapero said the attack was linked to an explosion Wednesday in the town of Alcanar that killed one person.

The arrests took place in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll and in Alcanar. And police said they believed the events in Cambrils were linked to those in Barcelona and Alcanar.

ISIS claimed responsibility, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by "soldiers of the Islamic State" in response to the extremist group's calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

After the afternoon attack, Las Ramblas went into lockdown. Swarms of police brandishing handguns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafés and public transport to shut down.

Maghrebi Driss Oukabir is alleged to have rented the van that was used in the attack. It is not known if he is one of the suspects in custody. (Spanish National Police/EPA)

Early on, police identified Maghrebi Driss Oukabir as the man suspected of renting the van used in the attack. Reports emerged in Spanish media suggesting Oukabir had turned himself in to police and said his identification documents had been stolen, claiming he was not involved in the attack. It is not known if he is one of the suspects in custody.

Barcelona van attack witness describes moment 'all hell let loose'
Las Ramblas is a wide avenue of stalls and shops that cuts through the centre of Barcelona and is one of the city's top tourist destinations. It features a pedestrian-only walkway in the centre, while cars can travel on either side.

A taxi driver who witnessed Thursday's attack, Oscar Cano, said the white van suddenly jumped the curb and sped down the central pedestrian area at a high speed, veering from side to side as it targeted people.

Cars, trucks and vans have been the weapon of choice in multiple extremist attacks in Europe and elsewhere in recent years.

The most deadly was the driver of a tractor-trailer who targeted Bastille Day revellers in the southern French city of Nice in July 2016, killing 86 people. In December 2016, 12 people died after a driver used a hijacked truck to drive into a Christmas market in Berlin.

Two men sit and talk on an empty terrace on Las Ramblas after dark Thursday. (David Ramos/Getty Images)

There have been multiple attacks this year in London, where a man in a rented SUV plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four people before he ran onto the grounds of Parliament and stabbed an unarmed police officer to death in March.

Four other men drove onto the sidewalk of London Bridge, unleashing a rampage with knives that killed eight people in June. Another man also drove into pedestrians leaving a London mosque later in June.

In recent weeks, threatening graffiti against tourists has appeared in Barcelona, which draws at least 11 million visitors a year. In one video released under the slogan "Tourism Kills Neighbourhoods," several hooded individuals stopped a tourist bus in Barcelona, slashed the tires and spray-painted the windscreen.

The deadliest recent attack in Spain was in March 2004, when Islamist militants placed bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,800.

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