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TERRORISM

Van driver fled through market moments after mowing down victims on Las Ramblas

Spanish police have identified the driver of the van that mowed down pedestrians on the busy Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona, killing 13.

Van driver fled through market moments after mowing down victims on Las Ramblas
A police handout showing a photo of Younes Abouyaaqoub, the man they believe was the driver of the van. Photo: Los Mossos d'Esquadra

Spanish police said Monday that they have identified the driver of the van that mowed down pedestrians on the busy Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona, killing 13.

Police in Catalonia announced the identification on Twitter, without giving his name.

But Catalonia's regional interior minister Joaquim Forn told local radio that “everything suggests the van driver is Younes Abouyaaqoub”.    

The 22-year-old Moroccan remains at large, and police said Sunday that they did not know if he was still in Spain.

“We don't know where he is,” regional police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said Sunday.

The van driver was pictured 'strolling' through the famous Boqueria market after fleeing the van following the attack in which he zig-zagged the speeding van through crowds on Las Ramblas, mowing down more than 100 people and killing 13.

El Pais published the images caught on CCTV on their website on Monday morning. 

The 22-year-old Moroccan is believed to be the last remaining member of a 12-person cell still at large in Spain or abroad, with the others killed by police or detained over last week's twin attacks in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils.

He was described as “dangerous and possibly armed,” by police in Catalonia on Monday.

The regional police force, Los Mossos tweeted four pictures of Moroccan national Younes Abouyaaqoub wearing a striped top and with short, dark hair, and asked the public to “share as much (information) as possible.”

 

Click here for all the latest on Barcelona attack

Investigators have honed in on an imam, Abdelbaki Es Satty, aged in his 40s, who is among the suspects and is believed to have radicalised youths in Ripoll, a small town at the foot of the Pyrenees.

Several suspects — including Abouyaaqoub — grew up or lived there.

READ ALSO What we know about Barcelona attackers

Police raided more homes there on Monday morning, Forn said.   

Police said the imam had spent time in prison and had once been in contact with a suspect wanted on terrorism charges, without giving further details.   

El Mundo newspaper reported that Satty had struck up a friendship in prison with Rachid Aglif, who is serving an 18-year sentence over the 2004 Madrid train bomb attacks, which killed 191 people.

Prosecutors in Belgium also said he had spent time in the country, without elaborating.

The imam has been missing since Tuesday. 

On Saturday, police raided his apartment. They have raised the possibility that he died in an explosion on Wednesday evening at a house believed to be the suspects' bomb-making factory, where police uncovered a cache of 120 gas canisters.   

The suspected jihadists had been preparing bombs for “one or more attacks in Barcelona”, regional police chief Josep Lluis Trapero told reporters, revealing that traces of triacetone triperoxide (TATP) — a homemade explosive that is a hallmark of the Islamic State (IS) group — had also been found.

READ MORE: 'Mother of Satan' expl found in attackers bomb factory

The suspects accidentally caused an explosion at the house on the eve of Thursday's attack in Barcelona — an error that likely forced them to modify their plans.

Instead, they used a vehicle to smash into crowds on Barcelona's Las Ramblas boulevard as it was thronged with tourists, killing 13 people and injuring about 100.

Several hours later, a similar attack in the seaside town of Cambrils left one woman dead. Police shot and killed the five attackers in Cambrils, some of whom were wearing fake explosive belts and carrying knives.   

IS claimed responsibility for the attacks, believed to be its first in Spain.

ENVIRONMENT

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.

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