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Terror attacks in Spain

Spanish police shoot dead suspected van driver in Barcelona terror attack that killed 13

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 August, 2017, 11:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2017, 7:09am

Spanish police confirmed on Monday that Younes Abouyaaqoub, the man suspected of driving the van that killed 13 people in Barcelona last week, has been shot dead.

Ending a five-day manhunt, police tracked 22-year-old Abouyaaqoub to a rural area near Barcelona. They said they shot him after he held up what appeared to be an explosives belt. A woman had alerted them to the presence of a suspicious man.

Police gave few immediate details of the incident in Subirats, saying they had called in a bomb squad to approach the man’s body after gunning him down.

Police, who have been hunting for Abouyaaqoub since last Thursday’s attack, said earlier on Monday that he had killed another man while stealing a car to make his escape.

The 22-year-old Abouyaaqoub drove at high speed into heavy crowds strolling along Barcelona’s most famous avenue, Las Ramblas.

It was Spain’s worst militant attack in over a decade, with Islamic State claiming responsibility.

“The suspect wore what appeared to be an explosive belt. He has been shot down,” police said in an official tweet.

Local media said the man was spotted by a woman in the early afternoon and then fled through vineyards but police managed to find and shoot him on a road near a sewage treatment plant.

Police had asked the rest of Europe to join the manhunt for the Moroccan-born man. They said he fled Las Ramblas on foot amid the chaos of the attack then hijacked a car, stabbing the driver to death, before crashing through a police checkpoint.

Abouyaaqoub began showing more religiously conservative behaviour within the past year, according to family members in his native Morocco. He refused to shake hands with women during a visit to his birthplace in March, they said.

Abouyaaqoub’s brother El Houssaine and first cousins Mohamed and Omar Hychami were among those killed by police in Cambrils. They were all originally from the small Moroccan town of Mrirt.

Abouyaaqoub had been the only one of 12 accomplices still at large. His mother, Hannou Ghanimi, had appealed for him to surrender, saying she would rather see him in prison than end up dead.

Spain sets up 800 checkpoints in Catalonia in manhunt for Barcelona suspect

Four people have been arrested so far in connection with the attacks: three Moroccans and a citizen of Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla. They will be taken to the high court in Madrid, which has jurisdiction over terrorism matters.

Abouyaaqoub lived in Ripoll, a town north of Barcelona close to the French border.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Barcelona attack as well as a separate deadly assault hours later in the coastal resort town of Cambrils, south of Barcelona.

In Cambrils, a car crashed into passers-by and its occupants got out and tried to stab people. Five suspects were shot dead by police, while a Spanish woman died in the attack.

In the roughly seven hours of violence that followed the van’s entry into the pedestrian boulevard of Las Ramblas on Thursday afternoon, attackers killed 15 people: 13 on Las Ramblas, the Cambrils victim and the man in the hijacked car.

Of the 120 injured on Las Ramblas, nine remain in a critical condition in hospital.