Barcelona van attack suspect may have crossed into France

News Hour:

Spanish police hunting for a suspect after the Barcelona van attack that killed 13 people said on Sunday they could not rule out that he had slipped over the border into France.

Spanish police said security operations were under way in Catalonia and on the French border as they try to find Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, who they believe is the only one of 12 suspects still at large.

Others have been arrested, shot by police or killed in an explosion at a house in Catalonia a day before Thursday’s van attack on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s most famous boulevard, reports Reuters.

“We don’t have any specific information on this but it cannot be ruled out,” Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero told a news conference in Barcelona when asked if Abouyaaqoub could have crossed into France.

Spanish media have said Abouyaaqoub was suspected of being the driver, who fled after the attack. Trapero said he could not confirm who was driving, but said investigators believed only one person was in the van.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, in which a van traveling at high-speed drove through crowds of tourists and local people walking along Las Ramblas, leaving a trail of dead and 120 injured from 34 countries.

Hours later, police shot dead five men wearing fake explosive belts in the Catalan seaside resort of Cambrils after they rammed holidaymakers with a car and stabbed others, killing one woman.

Abouyaaqoub’s mother Hannou Ghanimi, speaking to reporters, urged her son to give himself up to police, saying she preferred him being in prison to being dead.

The attacks were the deadliest in Spain for more than a decade. In little more than a year, militants have used vehicles as weapons to kill nearly 130 people in France, Germany, Britain, Sweden and Spain.

Four people have been arrested so far in connection with the attacks – three Moroccans and a citizen of Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla.

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