Barcelona van driver reportedly among 5 suspects killed by police in Cambrils

The driver of the van that plowed into crowds in a tourist area of Barcelona, leaving at least 13 people dead and dozens wounded, is reportedly among the suspects killed by police following a second attack hours later in the Catalan seaside resort of Cambrils, two Spanish newspapers report.

1 Canadian confirmed dead, 4 others injured in Barcelona attack

Van slams into pedestrian mall in Barcelona

5 years ago
Duration 0:58
Multiple deaths and police searching for suspects after apparent terror attack

The latest:

  • Trudeau confirms one Canadian killed, four others injured 
  • 14 victims dead, more than 100 injured in dual vehicle attacks
  • Barcelona attack followed hours later by 2nd in Cambrils

The driver of the van that rammed into crowds on a key tourist street in Barcelona, leaving at least 13 people dead and dozens wounded, is reportedly among the suspects killed by police following a second attack hours later in the Catalan seaside resort of Cambrils, two Spanish newspapers report. 

On Friday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement confirming one Canadian had been killed and four others injured in the attack. 

"We join Spain and countries around the world in grieving the senseless loss of so many innocent people," he said. "We must stand firm against the spread of hate and intolerance in all its forms. These violent acts that seek to divide us will only strengthen our resolve."

Police identified four Moroccan men they say were involved in the attacks. Three seen in this photo were gunned down by officers in Cambrils, while the search continues for Younes Abouyaaqoub. (Spanish Police/EPA)

A police union official said he had been told that Moussa Oukabir, believed to be the driver in the Barcelona attack, was killed by officers early Friday. The official spoke anonymously because the official was not authorized to disclose the information.

A spokesperson for Catalonia regional police said authorities were investigating whether the driver had been killed, but would not say if they suspected this was Oukabir. Police were still focusing on the town of Cambrils, where a car plowed into a group of pedestrians on the town's boardwalk, killing at least one person and wounding six others, including a police officer.

Earlier in the day, police released the names and photos of four men wanted in connection with the attacks: Oukabir, 17, Mohamed Hychami, 24, Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, and Said Aallaa, 18.

A police union official said a document was sent to police across the country on Friday after Spain's National Court issued arrest warrants for the suspects. It identified the suspects as being of Moroccan origin and from the small city of Ripoll near the Pyrenees Mountains and Spain's border with France.

Spanish authorities said the two vehicle attacks — as well as an explosion earlier this week in a house elsewhere in Catalonia — were related and the work of a large terrorist group. ISIS quickly claimed responsibility.

Spanish officials said citizens from 34 countries were among those killed or injured in the attacks. 

CBC's Thomas Daigle answered audience questions about the attacks in Spain this morning. You can watch the discussion here:

Police said they believe the attacks are linked to a Wednesday night explosion in the town of Alcanar, 90 kilometres southwest of Cambrils, that left one person dead.

ISIS claims responsibility for Barcelona

The attacks began around 5 p.m. local time Thursday when the van veered onto a sidewalk and barrelled down a busy pedestrian zone in Barcelona's picturesque Las Ramblas district, swerving from side to side as it mowed down tourists and residents and turned the popular European vacation promenade into a bloody killing zone.

Victims were left sprawled in the street, spattered with blood or crippled by broken limbs. Others fled in panic, screaming or carrying young children in their arms. 

"It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible," Josep Lluis Trapero, head of the Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalonian police force, told a news conference late Thursday. 

Two people were arrested shortly after the attack, followed by two others on Friday. They are three Moroccans and a Spaniard, and none has extremist backgrounds, authorities said.

ISIS said in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack in Barcelona was carried out by "soldiers of the Islamic State" in response to the extremist group's calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

After the attack, Las Ramblas went into lockdown. Swarms of police brandishing handguns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafés and public transport to shut down.

Hours later, at around 1 a.m. on Friday, local time, police in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, about 130 kilometres to the south, fatally shot five people near the town's boardwalk who had plowed into a group of tourists and locals with their blue Audi 3. One of the victims died later from her injuries.

Early on, police identified Driss Oukabir as the man suspected of renting the van used in Barcelona.

But reports emerged in Spanish media suggesting Oukabir had turned himself in to police and said his identification documents had been stolen, claiming he was not involved in the attack. It is not known if he is one of the suspects in custody. 

Las Ramblas is a wide avenue of stalls and shops that cuts through the centre of Barcelona and is one of the city's top tourist destinations. It features a pedestrian-only walkway in the centre, while cars can travel on either side.

A taxi driver who witnessed Thursday's attack, Oscar Cano, said the white van suddenly jumped the curb and sped down the central pedestrian area at a high speed, veering from side to side as it targeted people.

Forensic investigators probe the scene in Cambrils, Spain, where five alleged attackers were killed by police after ramming into people on the street — hours after a similar attack in Barcelona. (Lluis Gene/Getty)

Leaders react

There is a Canadian Consulate in Barcelona. The Foreign Affairs Department urged Canadians in Barcelona to let their loved ones know they are safe and provided a contact number for those seeking assistance.

Canadian citizens in the area who need emergency consular assistance can contact officials at +34 93 270 3614 or or call the government's 24/7 emergency centre at 1-613-996-8885 or ‎

"We stand ready to assist Canadians as required," the department told CBC News on Thursday. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the attack on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

Police said a cell of at least nine extremists meticulously plotted to combine vehicles and explosives in a direct hit on tourists in Barcelona. A manhunt was still underway Saturday in Spain and France for any remaining members of the group. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

"Canada condemns today's terror attack in Barcelona — our hearts, sympathies & support are with the victims and their families," Trudeau tweeted.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May said that the "the U.K. stands with Spain against terror."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, meanwhile, said it was "with profound sorrow and anguish that I have learned of the terrorist attack that has struck at the heart of Barcelona this afternoon."

He added: "This cowardly attack has deliberately targeted those enjoying life and sharing time with family and friends. We will never be cowed by such barbarism."

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau expressed gratitude for the solidarity expressed from around the world.

She also said there would be a minute of silence Friday "to show that we are not scared." The regional government announced three days of mourning.

Forensic teams investigate Barcelona van attack scene

5 years ago
Duration 0:51
Investigators search for clues while police escort tourist groups back to their hotels

Cars, trucks and vans have been the weapon of choice in multiple extremist attacks in Europe and elsewhere in recent years.

The most deadly was the driver of a tractor-trailer who targeted Bastille Day revellers in the southern French city of Nice in July 2016, killing 86 people. In December 2016, 12 people died after a driver used a hijacked truck to drive into a Christmas market in Berlin.

There have been multiple attacks this year in London, where a man in a rented SUV plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four people before he ran onto the grounds of Parliament and stabbed an unarmed police officer to death in March.

Four other men drove onto the sidewalk of London Bridge, unleashing a rampage with knives that killed eight people in June. Another man also drove into pedestrians leaving a London mosque later in June.

In recent weeks, threatening graffiti against tourists has appeared in Barcelona, which draws at least 11 million visitors a year. In one video released under the slogan "Tourism Kills Neighbourhoods," several hooded individuals stopped a tourist bus in Barcelona, slashed the tires and spray-painted the windscreen.

The deadliest recent attack in Spain was in March 2004, when Islamist militants placed bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,800.

With files from CBC News and Reuters