Barcelona Attack: Terror cell dismantled, manhunt for one ongoing

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The terror cell responsible for attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils has been dismantled but a manhunt for one suspect is ongoing, Spanish authorities have said.

At a press conference on Saturday Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido declared police have broken the “terrorist cell from Barcelona” - after he said five members were killed, four were in detention and as many as two were killed in an explosion.

Police officers stand guard on Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona on August 19, 2017, two days after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 100. Picture: Getty Images

Police officers stand guard on Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona on August 19, 2017, two days after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 100. Picture: Getty Images

He said no new attacks were imminent, that they will be maintaining the country’s terrorist threat alert at level four, and security at popular events and tourist sites around the country will be reinforced.

Catalan Police spokesman Albert Oliva later confirmed a manhunt is under way for any remaining members of the Islamic extremist cell, with the search focused on Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan.

He said officers have carried out nine searches of properties in Ripoll, the northern Catalan town where Abouyaaqoub and other suspects lived.

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A man embraces a police officer on the spot where five terrorists were shot by police on August 18, 2017 in Cambrils, Spain. . (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

A man embraces a police officer on the spot where five terrorists were shot by police on August 18, 2017 in Cambrils, Spain. . (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Abouyaaqoub has been named in Spanish media as the suspected driver of the van, which was used in the massacre on Las Ramblas that left 13 dead and nearly 130 injured.

On Friday it emerged another suspect Moussa Oukabir, who is thought to have rented the van, was among five men shot dead as they launched a second attack in the coastal town of Cambrils.

The teenager, said to be 17 or 18 years old, is suspected of using his brother’s documents to hire the vehicle that ploughed through pedestrians in the tourist hotspot on Thursday evening.

He reportedly died along with Said Aallaa, 19, and Mohamed Hychami, 24, who were part of a group that mounted a similar attack in Cambrils that left one woman dead and six people injured.

Messages are written on the ground on Las Ramblas near the scene.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Messages are written on the ground on Las Ramblas near the scene. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

The identities of the other two dead jihadists are yet to be confirmed by police.

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Four men, aged 21, 27, 28 and 34, who were arrested in connection with the attack remain in custody.

Three are Moroccan and one Spanish, and police said none of them was previously known to the security services for terror-related reasons.

Moussa Oukabir’s older brother, Driss Oukabir, is reported to be one of those detained.

Some 34 nationalities were among almost 130 people wounded in the attacks in Las Ramblas and in Cambrils, which lies around 70 miles to the south west.

The victim of the second assault in Cambrils has been identified as a Spanish woman.

Relatives of a seven-year-old who became separated from his mother during the Barcelona attack are continuing to appeal for information.

The father and grandmother of Julian Alessandro Cadman are travelling to Spain from Australia as the wait for news continues, family member Debbie Cadman said.

Speaking after the family’s initial plea for help, Prime Minister Theresa May said a child with dual British nationality was believed to be among those unaccounted for.

Four Australians were injured in the attack, the country’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said.

Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau said one Canadian was killed and four injured during the attacks.

Vancouver Police Department confirmed the Canadian killed in the attack was Ian Moore Wilson.

A statement released by his daughter Fiona, a staff sergeant in the force, said he was a “much-loved husband, father, brother, and grandfather” and was compassionate, adventurous and generous.

Authorities said 53 people injured in the attacks were still in hospital on Saturday, with 13 in a critical condition and 22 in a serious condition.

It comes after police said the terrorists behind the rampage were preparing bigger attacks, with a suspected gas explosion on Wednesday at a house in Alcanar believed to have robbed the killers of materials to use in larger-scale operations.

On Saturday police carried out controlled explosions in the town

Reports from Spain had earlier suggested the terror cell may have been planning an attack using gas canisters.

Catalan regional police official Josep Lluis Trapero told reporters on Friday: “We think they were preparing at least one or more attacks in Barcelona.

“The explosion in Alcanar at least avoided some of the material they were counting on to carry out even bigger attacks than the ones that happened.

“Because of that the attack in Barcelona and the one in Cambrils were carried out in a bit more rudimentary way than the one they had initially planned.”

Police are also looking for a white Kangoo vehicle which is believed to have been rented by the suspects and could have crossed the border into France, according to French media.

The attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils took place around eight hours apart on Thursday afternoon and in the early hours of Friday.

In an echo of the London Bridge attack in June, Catalonia president Carles Puigdemont said the five terrorists in the Cambrils car were wearing fake suicide belts when they were stopped.

Police said that an axe and knives were also found in the vehicle, with one of the latter used to wound one person in the face before the terrorists were gunned down.