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4 Suspects Held in Spain, as Toll Rises to 14

Political tensions erupted into the open when Catalans remonstrated loudly, with a man with a Spanish flag wrapped around his legs shouting, “This is not the place!” Moments later, opposing groups chanted at each other in Spanish and Catalan.

Others were more reflective, consumed with sadness and worried that the plague of vehicular attacks in Britain, Germany and France over the past two years has now reached Spain.

“I am anxious, nervous, my chest is tight, but at the same time people are going out,” said Estella Gil, a teacher’s assistant, who had come to Las Ramblas in a show of solidarity. “Usually, I walk here feeling safe. Now, I am afraid, really afraid.”

Moussa Oukabir’s brother Driss Oukabir was arrested on Thursday after going to the police and claiming that his identity documents had been stolen. A national police official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation, said at least three vans had been rented under Driss Oukabir’s name. He has denied any connection to the attacks

Two years ago, a person using the name Moussa Oukabir wrote in an online forum that if he were king, he would “kill all infidels and only spare Muslims who follow the religion.”

A third suspect detained in Ripoll, about 65 miles north of Barcelona, has not been identified. It was not clear if his arrest was in connection with the attack in Barcelona, the second assault in Cambrils, or both.

As the scope of the attacks began to emerge, perhaps the most troubling aspect was the apparent existence of a terrorist cell that coordinated the assailants’ actions which might, but for an accident while mixing chemicals for explosives, have been far more deadly.

That blast, which killed one person and injured several others, occurred just before midnight in the town of Alcanar and was first reported as a gas explosion. But as attacks unfolded in Barcelona and Cambrils later Thursday, the police soon made the connection to Alcanar.

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Moussa Oukabir

The attack in Cambrils was halted by the police only after the driver of a compact Audi A3 rammed his vehicle into a group of pedestrians, according to news accounts citing the Catalan authorities. Seven people were wounded, and one woman later died of her injuries.

The Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported that the Audi had run through a security checkpoint at the entrance to the town, prompting a police chase. After driving into pedestrians, the five occupants emerged, wielding knives. But the police quickly descended, killing all five before they could commit any further mayhem.

The five assailants appeared to be wearing explosive vests, although the Catalan police said on Friday that the explosives were fake. The Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, claimed responsibility for the attack in Barcelona, but there has been no such claim as yet for the events in Cambrils.

At least 80 people from 34 countries were injured in the assaults. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, said in a statement that 26 French were among the wounded, with 11 in serious condition. He also said that he would travel to Barcelona on Friday to “visit the French victims of this cowardly act and show France’s support to the Spanish people and authorities.”

Source: NYT > World

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