Spanish police on Monday said they have killed eight suspected terrorists, including the driver of the van, and detained four of the 12-member terror cell behind Catalan region’s twin attacks.
According to Xinhua, Catalan police confirmed that it has shot and killed Younes Abouyaaqoub, the man confirmed as the author of Thursday’s terror attack which killed 14 people in Barcelona.
“We confirm that the man shot down in #Surirats is Younes Abouyaaqoub, author of the terrorist attack in #Barcelona,” said the Mossos d’Esquadra regional police on their official Twitter account.
Abouyaaqoub, 22, was shot in the town of Subirats, which is around 50 kilometres to the southwest of Barcelona.
Abouyaaqoub was wearing a fake explosive belt, Spain’s anti-terrorist sources were quoted as saying.
The Mossos’ bomb disposal unit (TEDAX) used a robot to approach the belt and sources close to the investigation told Efe that they had determined it was fake.
The police operation began at 16:00 local time after Catalan police had “received information of a suspicious person in Subirats”.
According to local media, a woman in Subirats recognised Abouyaaqoub and called the police, who had previously warned he was dangerous and probably armed.
Earlier in the day, Catalan interior minister Joaquin Forn confirmed on Catalan local radio that Abouyaaqoub was the “the driver of the van” which ploughed into crowds of people on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, killing 13 and injuring over 120 others.
Meanwhile, five terrorists were shot by police as they carried out the attack in Cambrils in the early hours of Friday morning. The other four were arrested and are in police custody.
“So far there are 4 detainees and 8 suspected dead terrorists regarding the attacks of #Barcelona and #Cambrils,” Catalan police tweeted.
Following the attack in Barcelona, five men believed to be part of the same terror cell drove a car into crowds in the seaside town of Cambrils while sporting fake bomb belts.
They were shot dead by police on the scene after killing one person and injuring five others.
Earlier on Monday, the TEDAX had removed around 120 butane canisters from a house in the seaside resort of Alcanar, where the alleged terror cell made up of 12 attackers, including Abouyaaqoub, had been assembling bombs to be used in their attacks.
However, the house where the bombs were being prepared suffered an accidental explosion that investigators think prompted the cell to opt for vehicle attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils instead.
One suspect linked to the house was arrested and provided interrogators with relevant information that advanced the investigation, Mossos chief Josep Lluís Trapero said.
Investigators had “very relevant and solid evidence” that an imam, Abdelbaki al-Satty, who could have been one of the organisers of the attacks, was killed in the explosion.
Al-Satty, who was an imam in Ripoll and, according to one of Abouyaaqoub’s cousins, the person who radicalised the members of the terror cell involved in the Catalan attacks, could be one of at least two suspects who died in the blast, said Trapero.
“The 12 initial targets regarding the attacks are dead or detained but that does not mean that the investigation is over. We keep working,” Catalan police added.