Hunt continues for van driver in Barcelona attack



An international manhunt was underway on Saturday for the driver of a van that killed 13 persons in Barcelona and injured over a hundred people.

Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan national, is said to be at the centre of the investigation into the Thursday massacre in which a van driven by terrorists ploughed into a crowd in Barcelona's Las Ramblas boulevard. At least 130 were injured in the attack, media reports said.

Moussa Oukabir, the 18-year-old who was previously reported as the key suspect in the Barcelona attack, was one of five men shot dead by police in a second terror attack in the coastal town of Cambrils on Friday, authorities said. 

Said Aallaa and Mohamed Hycham were the other two suspects killed in the Cambrils attack that left one woman dead and five others injured after the men drove into pedestrians. 

The other two dead terrorists were yet to be identified.

According to the Spanish newspaper El País, Catalonia police said they were searching for the man who is thought to be a key member of a jihadist cell responsible for the double attacks. 

The massive manhunt was launched amid fears that the terrorists could be preparing further attacks at popular tourist areas.

Abouyaaqoub, 22, lived in the town of Ripoll to the north of Barcelona. One former classmate described Abouyaaqoub as "very shy." She told La Vanguardia newspaper: "He didn't like attention."

Four men, who were arrested in connection with the attacks, remain in custody. Three were Moroccan and one was Spanish. Police said none of them were previously known to the security services. 

Moussa Oukabir's older brother, Driss Oukabir, was reported to be one of those detained.

Despite fears that Abouyaaqoub is still at large, Spain on Saturday decided to maintain its terrorist threat alert at level four, the second-highest level, declaring that no new attacks were imminent, the Guardian reported. 

Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said the country would nevertheless reinforce security for events that draw large crowds and popular tourist sites.

As of Saturday morning, 54 injured people were still hospitalised with 12 of them in critical condition, according to Catalan emergency services.

Thirteen of the 14 victims in the double attacks were identified. Five were Spanish, three were German, two were Italian, with one each from the US, Belgium and Portugal.

Police said that the suspects in the double attacks originally planned to use explosive devices to wreak greater devastation but were apparently thwarted because their materials detonated prematurely. 

Authorities also said there was a clear link between an explosion at a house at Alcanar on Wednesday and the attacks. Two bodies were found in the rubble after the blast in Alcanar. 

The police said it believes that the terrorist cell consisted of 12 men -- 5 of them shot down in Cambrils, 2 dead in Alcanar blast, four arrested and one on the run. - IANS