Third person arrested as death toll rises to 14 in Spain attacks

BARCELONA (USA TODAY) — A third person was arrested Friday and five suspects were shot dead following a deadly van attack in Barcelona that killed more than a dozen people and injured at least 100, Spanish authorities said.

The regional president said at least one terrorist was "still out there," after police shot and killed the suspects in Cambrils, a beach town south of Barcelona.

Thousands of people including King Felipe VI  gathered in Placa Cataluña, the main square in Barcelona's center, for a minute of silence. The tribute ended with long applause and a spontaneous chant: "No tinc por" — Catalan for "I'm not afraid."

Authorities are hunting for Moussa Oukabir, an 18-year-old Moroccan, in connection with the attack.

None of the three people arrested was the driver of the white van that plowed through a pedestrian walkway in Las Ramblas, a street popular with tourists in Barcelona, killing 13 people Thursday, police said. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. 

The overall death toll is 14, after a woman injured in Cambrils died. She has not been identified.

Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s regional president, said at least one militant remained at large. It wasn't immediately clear if he was referring to the van driver. 

"We don’t have information regarding the capacity to do more harm," Puigdemont told Onda Cero radio.

Oukabir Driss, 28, Moussa Oukabir's older brother, handed himself to police Thursday in the town of Ropill, around 65 miles north of Barcelona, after seeing his name circulated in relation to the attack because the van was rented in his name, according to media reports. Authorities are investigating if Moussa Oukabir could have used his brother's identity documents to hire the van. 

Catalonia Interior Minister Joaquim Forn told Catalunya Radio on Friday that the third suspect was arrested in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll. The other two were detained Thursday in Ripoll and in Alcanar, a town about 120 miles southwest of Barcelona.

Spanish police shot dead five people in Cambrils early Friday in an incident thought to be linked to the van attack. One person died in an explosion at a house in Alcanar on Wednesday night. That incident is also being linked.

More: Barcelona terror attack: What we know now

Spanish media reported that seven people including a police officer were injured when a car drove into them in Cambrils. The car overturned and the attackers were shot by police when they exited. Some of the suspects were carrying explosive belts, Spanish TV reported.

Spanish authorities said the dead and injured come from 24 countries.

The first victim named in the attack is Bruno Gulotta, a father of two young children from Italy who was on vacation with his family when he was hit by the van, the Telegraph reported. Belgian officials identified one of the deceased as Elke Vanbockrijck, a woman from the eastern town of Tongeren.

The first Spanish victim to be named was Francisco López Rodríguez, 60, from the southern city of Granada, El Pais reported.  It said his wife was seriously injured and her niece and son were killed. 

France said 26 French nationals were among the injured. A number of Germans are also understood to have been hurt.

Las Ramblas, a normally packed street, was a ghost town Friday morning as a few people strolled on the famous pedestrian mall, with some stopping to lay flowers and light candles to honor the victims.

Many stores and stalls opened in defiance of the terror the day before, as traders swept up trash and debris and hung black ribbons on their stalls to commemorate the dead.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced three days of mourning.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) warned regional police two months ago that Barcelona was at risk of a terrorist attack following vehicle attacks in other major European cities, the local El Peridoco newspaper reported Friday.

Cambrils, pop. 33,000, is a small coastal city and a popular tourist destination on the so-called Gold Coast, with an international airport serving it. There are many tourist draws there, including the PortAventura World amusement park, the most popular in Spain, as well as long sandy beaches and a popular port. 

The van attack is the latest in a chilling trend of vehicular terrorism that requires little organization, manpower or technological know-how. 

Vehicles have been used to plow into pedestrians in the United Kingdom twice this year, including a June attack on London Bridge that killed eight people and a March attack on Westminster Bridge and outside the nearby Houses of Parliament where four pedestrians and one police officer were killed. In late December, a truck plowed into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people and wounding nearly 50 others.

Contributing: Doug Stanglin

More: Terror spreads from airports to open spaces

More: Cruise lines to go ahead with Barcelona calls in wake of terror attack

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment