The driver in Thursday’s van attack that killed 13 people in a tourist area of Barcelona may still be alive and on the run, Spanish police say.
They are hunting for Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, now named by Spanish media as the suspected driver.
A man previously reported as the key suspect, Moussa Oukabir, 17, was one of five men killed by police after a later attack in Cambrils, west of Barcelona.
Police say the suspects had been planning more sophisticated attacks.
They said blasts on Wednesday at a house in the town of Alcanar deprived plotters of bomb material, so they carried out simpler attacks using vehicles.
Abouyaaqoub, 22, lived in the town of Ripoll to the north of Barcelona. Three people have been arrested in Ripoll and one person in Alcanar.
Oukabir had previously been seen as the main suspect – but late on Friday police chief Josep Trapero told local TV that the theory that he was the driver now “had less weight”.
El Pais newspaper said there was a growing belief that Abouyaaqoub was the main suspect.
Oukabir is suspected of using his brother’s documents to rent the van used in the Barcelona attack and another found hours later in the town of Vic, north of Barcelona, that was intended as a getaway vehicle.
In the early hours of Friday police shot dead five attackers, including Oukabir, in Cambrils after the men drove a car into pedestrians, killing one woman and injuring six other people.
The attackers’ vehicle overturned and when the men got out they were quickly fired upon by police. One was reportedly brandishing a knife.
Police chief Trapero said one officer killed four of the attackers single-handedly.
The men were wearing what appeared to be explosive belts, police said, but these proved to be fake.
On Saturday, police said they were carrying out controlled explosions at the Alcanar site.
El Mundo says that officials believe a cell of at least a dozen people was operating at the house, which was being used as a bomb factory to carry out attacks with even greater devastation than the Las Ramblas attack.
Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said on Saturday that the cell had been “totally dismantled”.
He said that security measures were being increased around the country, particularly at tourist areas, but that the nation’s security alert level would would remain unchanged as there was no information of a possible imminent attack.
He said the country was united in pain but also in the fight against terrorism.
Who are the suspects?
- Killed: Five suspected jihadists shot dead by police in Cambrils. Moussa Oukabir, 17; Said Aallaa, 18; Mohamed Hychami, 24; two unnamed men
- Arrested: Three in the town of Ripoll: Driss Oukabir, 28, the brother of Moussa. He turned himself in saying his documents had been stolen to rent vehicles used in the Las Ramblas attack. Sahal el-Karib, 34, and Mohammed Aallaa, 27. One unnamed person in Alcanar, following the house explosion there on Wednesday
- Hunted: Younes Abouyaaqoub, now suspected to be the driver in the Las Ramblas attack
Thursday’s attack occurred when a Fiat van was driven down the pedestrianised Las Ramblas area, killing 13 people and injured scores more.
Only five of the dead have been named so far:
- American Jared Tucker, 43
- Canadian Ian Moore Wilson
- Spaniard Francisco López Rodríguez, in his 60s
- Italian Bruno Gulotta, 35
- Italian Luca Russo, 25
A 74-year-old Portuguese woman, a 40-year-old woman with dual Argentine and Spanish citizenship, and a Belgian were also killed, their governments said.
Seven-year-old Julian Cadman, a dual British-Australian national who was separated from his mother during the attack, is missing, ABC Australia reports. His mother was reportedly among the seriously injured.
Catalonia emergency services gave a new breakdown of the injured on Saturday:
- Barcelona attack: 12 critical, 24 serious, 11 less serious, 3 minor
- Cambrils attack: 1 serious, 2 less serious, 1 minor
So-called Islamic State (IS) said it had carried out the Las Ramblas attack, though it is not clear whether any of the attackers were directly connected to the group or simply inspired by it.
What was the timeline of events?
- Alcanar, Wednesday evening: An explosion rips through a house in the small town, 200km south of Barcelona. One person dies. Police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said it appeared the residents at the house had been “preparing an explosive device”. A Catalan government official says a cell may have intended to use gas canisters in the Las Ramblas attack
- Barcelona, Thursday 16:50 (14:50 GMT): A white Fiat van drives down Las Ramblas in central Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring scores. The driver flees on foot
- Vic, Thursday 18:30: Police find a second van, thought to be a getaway vehicle, in the town, 80km north of Barcelona
- Sant Just Desvern, Thursday 19:30: A car is driven towards officers at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Barcelona. They open fire. A man is later found dead in the passenger seat of the car with stab wounds. The dead man is not linked to the Las Ramblas attack, officials say, but investigations are ongoing. One theory is that the car was stolen and the man was killed by the carjacker, who is still at large
- Cambrils, Friday 01:00: A second vehicle attack takes place in the resort south of Barcelona. Police kill five terrorist suspects said to be linked to the Las Ramblas attack. They include Moussa Oukabir, 17, initially thought to be the Las Ramblas attacker. Police later say another man, Younes Abouyaaqoub, is being hunted.