Free Press Journal

Police extend hunt for Barcelona attacker across Europe



Madrid: The hunt for the driver who killed 13 people in the Barcelona attack has been extended across Europe, a Spanish government official said on Monday.

Officials confirmed that Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan national, was the driver of the van which ploughed into a crowd in Las Ramblas Boulevard on Thursday. At least 130 were injured in the attack.

Catalan Interior Minister Joaquim Forn told a radio station that authorities were coordinating with police across Europe but there was no indication that Abouyaaqoub had left the region.

“This person is no longer just being sought in Catalonia but in all European countries, this is an effort by European police,” Forn said.

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Police set up 800 vehicle checkpoints and tripled the number of officers working on anti-terrorism operations after the attack, but the fugitive continues to evade them, the Guardian reported. Regional police chief Josep Lluís Trapero told a press conference on Sunday that the possibility that Abouyaaqoub had escaped to France had not been ruled out.

New CCTV footage appeared to show him fleeing the scene of the attack on foot. Three images in Spain’s El Pais newspaper showed the man walking through La Boqueria market, wearing sunglasses, as he passed other people heading away from Las Ramblas. Police said they were investigating the possibility that, some 90 minutes later, the suspect stabbed and killed a Spanish man and stole his car, BBC reported.

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Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said that of the 12 suspects in the double attacks, only Abouyaaqoub remained at large. Five of them were shot by the police during the second attack in Cambrils, where a Spanish woman was killed.

Four terrorists were detained. Of the remaining three, officials said, it is possible that two were killed in the explosion at the bomb-making factory in Alcanar on Wednesday, though the remains found at the site were still being tested. The suspects originally planned a large-scale bomb attack before an accidental explosion at a house at Alcanar forced a change of plans, said media reports.