Police in Catalonia have shot dead a suspect Younes Abouyaaqoub, the probable driver of the van that killed 13 people on Barcelona’s Ramblas last week, as the manhunt zeroed in on him as the last remaining fugitive from the terrorist cell.
The 22-year-old Moroccan was shot by police while wearing a suspected explosives belt.
A bomb-disposal robot was deployed to the scene of the shooting before police were able to approach Abouyaaqoub’s body.
The operation took place in Subirats, one hour’s drive west of Barcelona.
Police were alerted to the scene on Monday afternoon after a woman called saying there was a suspicious man in the vicinity.
The public had been warned that he was dangerous and could be armed, and it was feared he could have escaped across the border into France.
After Monday afternoon’s shooting, police wearing balaclavas drove unmarked vehicles away from the scene.
Police, who have been hunting for Abouyaaqoub since last Thursday’s attack, said earlier on Monday that he had killed another man while stealing a car to make his escape after the attack on Las Ramblas boulevard.
As the manhunt was launched following the attack, Joaquin Form, the Catalan regional interior secretary, told local radio that “everything indicates” that Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan and resident of the northern town of Ripoll, was the van driver.
Early CCTV images emerged appearing to show Abouyaaqoub making his escape on foot through Barcelona’s La Boqueria market following Thursday afternoon’s attack.
Following the attack, security forces launched a major operation in the north of Catalonia and in particular along the French border. Mr Form said there was no evidence that Abouyaaqoub had left the region, but said authorities were coordinating with other governments as the fugitive was being sought “in all European countries”.
French media reported that the car used by five of the terrorists in a second attack in the seaside town of Cambrils was caught speeding near Paris just days earlier.
It was “neither rented nor stolen”, according to investigative sources cited by BFMTV, and was caught by a speed camera in the Essonne, south of Paris.
SOURCE: Hannah Strange and Henry Samuel