Hunt continues for Barcelona mastermind


Fans and players have held a minute’s silence in homage to Spain’s extremist attack victims prior to a soccer match between FC Barcelona and Betis at Camp Nou stadium.
Before the minute was up, tens of thousands of fans broke into a massive round of applause and began shouting the chant “I’m Not Afraid” that has become a rallying cry in the days since the attacks.
Similar tributes were to be held at all Spanish league matches this weekend.
It came as authorities confirmed dual British-Australian national Julian Cadman, seven, had died as a result of the Las Ramblas terror attack.
Meanwhile Spanish police say they are trying to establish if a man found dead inside a car on the outskirts of Barcelona is another victim of the extremist attack in the city.
Senior regional police officer Josep Lluis Trapero said early today investigators have not yet linked the man discovered inside a car that struck two officers at a police checkpoint to either the Las Ramblas van attack or its suspects.
Trapero says they are “working intensely on this inquiry”.
He says police fired on the car after it broke through the checkpoint within hours of the downtown attack on Thursday (Friday NZT). They initially thought they had killed the driver, but then discovered a dead person in the back seat.
An examination found no bullet wounds on the body, according to Trapero, who did not name the person found dead in the car nor say how he died.
Security operations were under way in Catalonia and on the French border as police try to find Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, who they believe to be 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 Friday’s van attack on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s most famous boulevard.
“We don’t have any specific information on this but it cannot be ruled out,” Trapero told a news conference in Barcelona when asked if Abouyaaqoub could have crossed into France.
Spanish media say authorities believe Abouyaaqoub drove the van through crowds of tourists and locals walking along Las Ramblas, leaving a trail of dead and 120 injured.
Another police official did confirm that three vans tied to the investigation were rented with Abouyaaquoub’s credit card: The one used in the Las Ramblas carnage, another found in the north-eastern town of Ripoll, where all the main attack suspects lived, and a third found in Vic, on the road between the two.
Police believe the cell members had planned to fill the vans with explosives and create a massive attack in the Catalan capital.
Trapero confirmed 120 tanks of butane gas were found at the Alcanar house that exploded, as well as ingredients of the explosive TATP, which was used by the Islamic State group in attacks in Paris and Brussels. DPA

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