August 19, 2017 / 2:51 PM / 3 months ago

Factbox: The Spanish investigation of Barcelona attack

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Spanish police have launched a manhunt for a fugitive member of a suspected Islamist militant cell behind a van attack on crowds in a tourist hotspot in Barcelona on Thursday and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils on Friday, which killed 14 people and injured more than 100.

The investigation so far:

EVENTS

Thursday, Aug. 17 - Van enters Las Ramblas at about 4.50 p.m. (1450 GMT) and ploughs into crowd of tourists and local people. Thirteen people are killed. Dead and injured include citizens of 34 countries. Driver flees on foot.

- Authorities in Vic, a small town outside Barcelona, say a van, thought to be a getaway vehicle, was found there on Thursday evening.

- Also on Thursday evening, police fire at a car that failed to stop at a roadblock in Barcelona. The car’s owner, a Spanish man, is found dead with knife wounds. Officials believe the driver of the car, who fled, may be connected to the Barcelona attack.

Friday, Aug. 18 - Police shoot dead five people in Cambrils, 120 km (75 miles) down the coast from Barcelona, after they drove their car at pedestrians and police officers. A Spanish woman is killed, several people, including a police officer, are injured. The five assailants had an axe and knives in their car and wore fake explosive belts.

ALCANAR LINK

Police believe the attackers are linked to a house in Alcanar, southwest of Barcelona, which was razed by an explosion shortly before midnight on Wednesday, killing one or possibly two occupants.

Police believe the house was being used to plan one or more large-scale attacks in Barcelona, possibly using a stock of butane gas canisters stored there.

The apparently accidental explosion at the house forced the conspirators to scale down their plans and to hurriedly carry out more “rudimentary” attacks, police say.

ISLAMIC STATE CLAIM

Islamic State’s Amaq news agency said the attackers acted “in response to calls for targeting coalition states” - a reference to a U.S.-led coalition against the Sunni Muslim militant group. Spain has several hundred soldiers in Iraq training local forces in the fight against Islamic State.

INVESTIGATION

Police have arrested four people - three Moroccans and a citizen of Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla - aged between 21 and 34. Police say none has a history of terrorism-related activities.

On Friday, police circulated to local officials details of four men they were searching for. They all lived in Ripoll, a northern Catalan town close to the French border, and had Moroccan nationality, according to the document seen by Reuters.

They were named as Moussa Oukabir, 17; Said Aallaa, 18; Mohamed Hychami, 24; and Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22.

Three of the men were killed in Cambrils. Abouyaaqoub is still being sought by police. Spanish media reported that Abouyaaqoub was the driver of the van in Barcelona.

Police in France are looking for the driver of a white Renault Kangoo van that may have been used by people involved in the Barcelona attack, a French police source told Reuters.

Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said on Saturday authorities believed the militant group behind the Barcelona attack had been dismantled.

Compiled by Adrian Croft; Editing by Julien Toyer and Janet Lawrence

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