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TERRORISM

France charges man allegedly linked to Barcelona attack

A man has been charged in France over alleged links to a suspect in last year's deadly jihadist attacks in Barcelona and a nearby seaside resort, a French legal source said Friday.

France charges man allegedly linked to Barcelona attack
Tributes on the Ramblas in Barcelona following the August terror attacks. Photo: AFP

The man, in his early 30s, was detained Tuesday in the southwestern town of Albi on suspicion of links to Moroccan Driss Oukabir, alleged to have rented the van used in the Barcelona attack.

A total of 16 people were killed when a van drove into crowds on the popular Las Ramblas boulevard in the heart of Barcelona and in a knife attack in the nearby resort of Cambrils last August.

The source said investigations would determine the nature of links the suspect had with Oukabir, who was arrested shortly after attacks which were claimed by the Islamic State group.

Two other two men who were detained in France on Tuesday have been released for lack of evidence, the source said.

The arrests were made during a joint operation with French and Spanish police in the south and southwest of France.

The identity papers of Oukabir were allegedly used to hire the van used in the Barcelona attack and driven by Younes Abouyaaqoub, who was shot dead by police along with four accomplices after an attack the following day in the coastal town of Cambrils.

READ ALSO: France arrests three linked to Barcelona attacks

TERRORISM

Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona

A court in Spain on Monday remanded in custody three suspected members of Islamic State arrested last week in Barcelona, including an Algerian man who had fought for the Islamist group in Iraq.

Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona
Archive photo of a suspected jihadist arrested near Barcelona. Photo: AFP

Spanish authorities began their investigation after becoming aware just before Christmas that the “potentially dangerous” Algerian man was in Spain, police said in a statement.   

The man, a “jihadist” who had fought for the Islamic State group in Iraq, was arrested at a building occupied by squatters in Barcelona's seaside neighbourhood of Barceloneta, the statement added.

Police detained two other Algerian men as part of the operation, one suspected of giving him “logistical support” in Spain and another described by police as has “acolyte”.

The operation was carried out in cooperation with European Union law enforcement agency Europol and the FBI, as well as the intelligence services of Spain and Algeria, the statement said.

The three men appeared before a court on Monday where the presiding judge ordered they be remanded in custody on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organisation.

Their arrest comes as the trial of three men accused of helping the jihadists behind the August 2017 attacks in Barcelona and a nearby town that killed 16 people is wrapping up at a court near Madrid.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, one of which involved a van ramming people in the centre of Barcelona.   

While none of the three men on trial are charged with direct responsibility, they are in the dock for helping the attackers, who were all shot dead by police.

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