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Barcelona and Cambrils attacks: What we know so far

Published in World Monday, 21 August 2017 16:40

BBC - A group of jihadists carried out a series of attacks in and around the Spanish city of Barcelona, killing 15 people.

The campaign of violence saw a van mowing down tourists and residents in Barcelona's famous Las Ramblas boulevard, and a car being driven into pedestrians in the popular seaside resort of Cambrils.

 

What happened?

It was at 16:50 (14:50 GMT) on Thursday 17 August that a white van careered down Las Ramblas at high speed, while the avenue that runs 1.2km (0.75 miles) was packed with tourists.

Witnesses said the driver zigzagged along the pedestrianised area, trying to hit as many people as possible. Many were knocked to the ground while others fled for cover in nearby shops and cafes.

The driver killed 13 people and injured more than 100, and then fled. Catalan police rushed to scene and told the public to stay in cafes and restaurants as they combed the area for at least one attacker.

They soon described the incident as a terror attack. Eventually police said one man had carried out the van attack, and named him as Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22.

Eight hours later, a black Audi A3 car ploughed into pedestrians at Cambrils, 100km (68 miles) down the coast from Barcelona. A Spanish woman was killed.

The Audi overturned and five people got out, some wearing fake suicide belts. Four were shot dead by a policeman at the scene. A fifth escaped but was later shot dead.

A sequence of events

It has since become clear that attacks on the Ramblas and at Cambrils were among several linked events that began the night before at Alcanar, further down the coast from Cambrils.

Up to three people died in the blast shortly after 23:00 on Wednesday night. The explosion reduced the house to rubble. Initially police thought the explosion had been linked to drug traffickers. But police then found 120 gas canisters in the wreckage and now believe the house was being used as a bomb factory and as the headquarters of the jihadist cell.

Spanish reports suggest that an imam, Abdelbaki Es Satty, may have died in the blast, along with another suspect, Youssef Aallaa.

Among the theories is that the jihadists may have intended to target Barcelona's iconic Sagrada Familia church with explosives.

"They were preparing one or several attacks in Barcelona and an explosion in Alcanar stopped this, as they no longer had the material they needed to commit attacks of an even bigger scope," said Catalonia police official Josep Lluis Trapero.

Barcelona carjacker

 

Pictures have emerged of suspected Las Ramblas attacker Younes Abouyaaqoub leaving the scene of the van murders and walking through La Boqueria market.

Reports suggest he then headed to the city's university area where he hijacked a white Ford Focus car at knifepoint and killed the driver, Pau Pérez. He then crashed through a police checkpoint, breaking a policewoman's leg, as he tried to leave Barcelona.

The car was found abandoned a few kilometres to the south, at Sant Just Desvern, with the body of Mr Pérez in the back seat. He had been stabbed and is now confirmed as the 15th victim of the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks.

Barcelona suspect identified by police

Who are the main suspects?

Younes Abouyaaqoub is still on the run and the main suspect in the Ramblas attack. Police warn he is dangerous and could be armed. Born in Morocco, he was among several members of the cell who lived in the Catalan town of Ripoll, 100km (60 miles) north of Barcelona.

Ripoll imam Abdelbaki Es Satty is thought to be dead. His flat in the village has been raided by police and there are suggestions that he galvanised the cell. The mosque president said the imam had told him he wanted to go back to Morocco. Belgian officials say he spent three months in the town of Vilvoorde in early 2016. The father of two of the Cambrils attackers has accused him of radicalising the young men.

 

Initially, the main focus was on Moussa Oukabir, 17, who was said to have used documents belonging to his brother, Driss Oukabir, 28, to rent the van that mowed down people on Las Ramblas and a second vehicle, later found in the town of Vic and believed to be a getaway car.

Driss Oukabir turned himself in in Ripoll on Thursday. Like his brother he had Moroccan as well as Spanish nationality.

It soon became clear that Moussa Oukabir was among the five attackers shot dead at Cambrils.

The other four attackers killed at Cambrils were Said Aallaa, 18; Mohamed Hychami, 24; Omar Hychami and Houssaine Abouyaaqoub. Said Aallaa is said to have left a note in his room apologising for the harm he was about to cause.

Who else has been arrested?

Along with Driss Oukabir, two other men were detained in Ripoll - Sahal el-Karib, 34, and Mohammed Aallaa, 27.

Mohamed Houli Chemlal was arrested in Alcanar following the Wednesday night explosion.

Who are the victims?

They come from all over the world, with at least 34 nationalities represented.

People from Ireland, the UK, France, Australia, Pakistan, Venezuela, Algeria, Peru, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Ecuador, the US, Argentina, Romania, Cuba, Austria and the Philippines are all reported to be among those hurt.

Read more about the victims

Barcelona attack: What the trees say

These names of the dead have so far been released:

  • American Jared Tucker, 43
  • Belgian Elke Vanbockrijck, 44
  • Spanish-Argentine Silvina Alejandra Pereyra, 40
  • Argentine Carmen Lopardo, 80
  • Spaniard Pepita Codina, 75
  • Canadian Ian Moore Wilson
  • Spaniard Francisco López Rodríguez, 57. A three-year-old relative with him also died
  • Italian Bruno Gulotta, 35
  • Italian Luca Russo, 25
  • British-Australian national Julian Cadman, 7
  • Spaniard Ana María Suárez. Died in the Cambrils attack
  • Pau Pérez, 34, found fatally stabbed in car at Sant Just Desvern

Two Portuguese nationals are also confirmed dead, a woman aged 74 and her 20-year-old granddaughter.

Jared Tucker, a father-of-three, was on honeymoon with his wife of one year, Heidi Nunes, when he died, his father said. Mr Tucker had been enjoying drinks on Las Ramblas when the van struck him.

Ian Moore Wilson was the father of a Vancouver police officer. His wife, Valerie, was injured.

The mother of Julian Cadman, the seven year old killed on Las Ramblas, was also injured in the attack and is in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

Was a bigger group behind the attack?

So-called Islamic State (IS) has said it was behind both the Las Ramblas and Cambrils attacks and that IS "soldiers" carried them out. But it did not provide any evidence or details to back up the claim.

Why Spain?

Spain is one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations but in recent years has not seen the kind of jihadist violence that has rocked France, the UK, Belgium and Germany.

Still, Spain has been targeted before - several trains in Madrid, the capital, were bombed by al-Qaeda inspired militants in 2004, killing 191 people.

The IS news outlet, Amaq, said the attack was carried out as part of efforts to target states fighting in the US-led anti-IS coalition.

A few hundred Spanish soldiers are in Iraq, training local forces fighting the Sunni militant group.

The number of operations carried out against jihadists in the country has increased significantly since Spain raised its terror alert level to four out of five in June 2015, meaning there was a "high risk" of a terror attack.

Before these attacks, 51 suspected jihadists had already been detained this year, while 69 were detained last year, and 75 in 2015.

Spain's long anti-terror experience

Security and surveillance was stepped up in the wake of truck attacks in the French city of Nice in July 2016 and the German capital Berlin in December.

On Twitter, the Spanish royal household posted: "They are murderers, nothing more than criminals who are not going to terrorise us. All of Spain is Barcelona."

Read 252 times Last modified on Monday, 21 August 2017 17:01

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