Police: Spanish terror cell had 120 gas canisters

Residents and tourists visit Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday, three days after the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils killed 14 people. Photo by Alejandro Garcia/EPA

Aug. 20 (UPI) — The 12-member terror cell behind two attacks in Spain last week was planning explosions in other vehicles, police said Sunday.

The driver who plowed a van into Barcelona’s Las Ramblas, killing 13 people Thursday, remains at large. A woman died in a second vehicle attack and five suspected jihadists were shot dead by police early on Friday in Cambrils, 62 miles away.

The canisters were found at a house in Alcanar said to be used by the cell that prematurely blew up in the town of Alcanar on Wednesday night, police said at a news conference in Barcelona on Sunday. Alcanar is 126 miles from Barcelona.

Police also revealed three rental vans, a car and a motorcycle have been linked to the main fugitive in the attacks.

Younes Abauyaaqoub was identified as the possible driver of the van and the remains of two other people thought to be behind the attack were found in the house explosion. Spanish media reported they may be Youssef Aallaa, the brother of one of the suspected jihadists killed at Cambrils, and Abdelbaki Es Satty, an imam from the town of Ripoll, north of Barcelona, where several of the suspects are from.

Abauyaaqoub’s mother, Hanno Ghanim, urged her son to turn himself in.

“I prefer him going to jail before him dying,” said the woman, who was hospitalized with stress-related illness.

Josep Lluis Trapero, head of the Catalan national police, said: “We do not know whether this person is in Spain. If we did, we would go to him.”

Trapero said police could not rule out he had crossed the French border.

The cell of 12 suspected terrorists, all Moroccans younger than 35, has been dismantled, Inspector Albert Oliva — the chief spokesman for the Catalan national police — reiterated on Spanish radio Sunday morning.

Three were arrested near Barcelona and another is in custody in Alcanar. Eight of them lived in Ripoll, a city north of Barcelona.

A 7-year-old boy with dual British-Australian nationality has been identified as one of the victims, police said Sunday. Julian Cadman’s mother is in serious but stable condition in a hospital after being injured in the Barcelona attack.

Tightened security remained in Barcelona, but Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia, told reporters, “Normality has come back to Las Ramblas, and we are rejecting openly any sign of xenophobia or radicalism.”

Barcelona is part of the Catalonia region.

At Barcelona’s famous Sagrada Familia Basilica, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and King Felipe VI attended a memorial Mass, and 100,000 people were expected at a FC Barcelona soccer match in the city.

“Security will be ensured as usual, as it’s always been done for football matches,” Trapero said. “Police stations always assess the risk and take measures accordingly.”


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