International search underway for driver in Barcelona attack

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People gather around an impromptu memorial two days after a van crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain August 19, 2017. Photo By Reuters

Spanish authorities have expanded their search across international borders in the hunt for a terrorist suspect believed to be the driver in a deadly strike that killed 13 people and injured 120 on Thursday in central Barcelona.

The international dragnet is now centered on a 22-year-old Moroccan-born man, Younes Abouyaaquoub, suspected of barreling a van through a crowded Barcelona street in what was Spain’s largest terrorist strike in more than a decade.

A second attack on the seaside town of Cambrils killed one person on Thursday after five assailants wearing fake suicide belts plowed a vehicle through a busy street about 75 miles outside of Barcelona. Police shot dead all five suspects.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Police investigate at the scene of an attack in Cambrils, south of Barcelona, Spain, August 18, 2017. Photo By Reuters

As the manhunt for the driver ensued on Saturday, police continued to investigate the wreckage of a house in the coastal town of Alcanar about 128 miles south of Barcelona where the attackers were thought to have created makeshift bombs and plotted the assaults. The home blew up on Thursday after the authorities said an explosive device had detonated. Police said controlled explosions would take place throughout the day on Saturday.

Spanish and French authorities said they also were combining forces to search for a possible ringleader of the alleged cell, the Associated Press reported.

Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoida said Saturday that police moved quickly to break up a terrorist cell accused of carrying out the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, with at least 12 people arrested or killed.

“We can say that the terrorist cell in Barcelona has been completely dismantled when you consider those who are dead, those who have been arrested, and those who have been identified, but that we cannot discuss because they are subject to an ongoing investigation,” Zoida said.

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