Barcelona van driver shot dead


The driver of the van that ploughed into crowds in Barcelona, killing 13 people, was one of five men shot dead by police in a Catalan seaside resort hours later, two Spanish newspapers reported overnight.
There was no immediate confirmation of the reports.
Josep Lluis Trapero, police chief in Spain’s north-eastern region of Catalonia, had said earlier that it was possible, but not confirmed, the driver was among those killed.
The driver abandoned the van and fled after speeding along a pedestrian section of Las Ramblas, the most famous boulevard in Barcelona, leaving a trail of dead and injured people.
It was the latest of a string of attacks across Europe in the past 13 months in which militants have used vehicles as weapons a crude but deadly tactic that is near-impossible to prevent and has now killed nearly 130 people in France, Germany, Britain, Sweden and Spain.
Suspected jihadists have been behind the previous attacks. Islamic State said the perpetrators of the latest one had been responding to its call to target countries involved in a United States-led coalition against the Sunni militant group.
Hours after the van rampage, police shot dead five people in the Catalan resort of Cambrils, 120km down the coast from Barcelona, after they drove their car at pedestrians and police officers.
The five assailants had an axe and knives in their car and wore fake explosive belts, police said.
A Spanish woman was killed in the Cambrils incident, while several other civilians and a police officer were injured.
Police have arrested four people in connection with the attacks three Moroccans and a citizen of Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla, Trapero said. They were aged between 21 and 34, and none had a history of terrorism-related activities.
Authorities have issued arrest warrants for four further suspects in connection with the two attacks, a judicial source said, declining to give their names.
La Vanguardia, a Barcelona-based newspaper which said it had obtained an internal document from the investigation, said the four being sought were all of Moroccan origin and aged between 17 and 24.
The van attack was the deadliest in Spain since March 2004, when Islamist militants placed bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people.
Of 126 people injured in Barcelona and Cambrils, 65 were still in hospital and 17 were in a critical condition. The dead and injured came from 34 countries, ranging from France and Germany to Pakistan and the Philippines.
A judicial source said investigators believed a cell of at least eight people, possibly 12, may have been involved in the Barcelona and Cambrils operations.
As Spain began three days of mourning, people laid flowers and lit candles in memory of the victims along Las Ramblas. Reuters

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