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1ST LEAD Driver in Barcelona attack identified as hunt extended across Europe By dpa correspondents

Europe
21.08.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Madrid (dpa) - The driver in last week‘s deadly van attack in Barcelona has been conclusively identified, Catalan police said Monday, without providing a name.

However, earlier, Catalan Interior Minister Joaquim Forn confirmed to Catalunya Radio that the driver was 22-year-old Younes Aboyaaqoub.

Aboyaaqoub is the last fugitive from the 12-strong terrorist cell presumed to have carried out the Barcelona attack and another terrorist strike in Cambrils, killing a total of 14 people.

Considering the possibility that Aboyaaqoub may have fled abroad, Forn said the suspect is "wanted in all European countries."

France began reinforcing border checks with Spain last week.

The black Audi A3 used in the car-ramming attack in Cambrills on Friday had been caught on police radar in Paris for speeding less than a week earlier, Le Parisien newspaper reported.

Aboyaaqoub had been staying in Ripoll, a small Spanish town near the French border that has become a focal point of the investigation, as several of the perpetrators had lived there.

Police carried out another search of Aboyaaqoub‘s apartment in the early hours of Monday. La Vanguardia newspaper reported two large bags and a carton were carried out of the residence and streets were blocked off.

On Saturday, police searched the Ripoll house of an imam whom they believe may have been the head of the terror cell which organized the attacks.

Abdelbaki Es Satty preached at a mosque in Ripoll until June. He is thought to have died in an explosion at a house in the town of Alcanar, 200 kilometres south of Barcelona, on Wednesday.

Police say that incident may have occurred during a botched bomb-making operation, which may have led to the terrorists to hastily advance their attack plans.

The prosecutor‘s office in Brussels told dpa on Monday that Es Satty had spent time in Belgium, but had not been previously known to Belgian authorities, spokesman Thierry Werts said.

He added that there was no evidence tying the imam to the March 2016 attacks on Brussels.

Hans Bonte, the mayor of Vilvoorde, a town north of Brussels, told Belgian news outlet VRT that Es Satty had spent time there between January and March last year.

 

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