SUBIRATS: A man shot dead by security forces on Monday is Younes Abouyaaqoub, the 22-year-old Moroccan who allegedly ploughed his van into crowds in Barcelona, killing 13 people, police said.
“We confirm that the person shot down in the incident in Subirats (near Barcelona) is Younes Abouyaaqoub, the perpetrator of the terrorist attack in Barcelona,” police in Catalonia tweeted.
— Mossos (@mossos) August 21, 2017
The Moroccan was the last remaining member of a 12-man cell suspected of plotting last week’s deadly vehicle rampages in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils that were claimed by the Islamic State organisation (IS) — its first in Spain.
Four men have been detained, while the others have been killed, either by police or in an explosion believed to have been accidentally detonated by the suspects themselves in their bomb factory in the seaside town of Alcanar.
Among those killed in the explosion was a Moroccan imam at the heart of the cell, Abdelbaki Es Satty, Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero confirmed Monday.
‘Knives and daggers’
Four days after his van rampage on the tourist-packed Las Ramblas boulevard, police gunned down the 22-year-old Abouyaaqoub in the village about 60 kilometres (37 miles) west of Barcelona.
Police had received two separate tip-offs on sightings of the fugitive — one from a police officer patrolling a train station and another from an individual who “was sure it was him”.
The witnesses had also noticed that the suspect was covered up despite the searing summer heat.
“A police patrol that was working in the rural zone left their vehicle, started walking and saw a person and got nearer to identify them,” recounted Trapero.
“That person opened his jacket… and appeared to have what looked like a suicide belt, but it was fake. That’s when (police) used their weapons and shot dead the suspect,” said the police chief.
Roser Ventura, who works at a vineyard close to where Abouyaaqoub was gunned down, told AFP she saw around 20 police cars drive by with sirens wailing while helicopters rattled overhead, as she heard the news about the shooting on the radio.
Arnau Gomez, who lives about a kilometre away from where the suspect was shot, described the village of 300 people as being an ideal hideout as “it is far from everything”.
“In the hills there are many homes of seasonal workers, it’s easy to hide,” he told AFP.
Toll rises to 15
Authorities earlier Monday raised the death toll to 15, confirming that Pau Perez, a 34-year-old man found stabbed to death in a Ford Focus outside Barcelona on Friday, was killed by Abouyaaqoub.
Investigators believe that Abouyaaqoub had hijacked the car from the victim to make his getaway.
The police had fired at the car as it forced its way through a checkpoint shortly after the Barcelona carnage, and later found Perez in the vehicle.
The Moroccan imam believed to have radicalised youths who committed attacks was confirmed dead Monday in an accidental explosion at the suspects’ bomb factory, police said.
Asked whether Abdelbaki Es Satty had died in the blast on Wednesday that precipitated the attacks, Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said: “It is confirmed,” adding “the remains of the imam were there”, in the house in Alcanar that exploded.