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Human tower is built to honor Barcelona victims

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Building human towers, or castells, are a very popular cultural event in many town festivals in Catalonia and date back to the 18th century.
BARCELONA, Spain — More than 20 people, including small children, have created a human tower among the crowds visiting the attack site on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas promenade in homage to the victims. The performance Saturday was greeted by strong applause when a young child with a protective helmet on climbed over his colleagues to reach the top of the multi-level tower. Building human towers, or castells, are a very popular cultural event in many town festivals in Catalonia and date back to the 18th century.
Teams compete to build the tallest and most complex towers. A castell is considered successful when it is built and taken apart without anyone falling. ___ 8: 30 p.m. Spain’s king and queen have paid a somber visit to the Las Ramblas attack site in Barcelona, placing a wreath and two candles on the ground in memory of the victims. King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia were accompanied Saturday by Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont and Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau. As he left, the king shook hands with bystanders. Shouts of “Long live the king!” and others for Spain, Catalonia and Barcelona could be heard. Earlier, the royal couple met with victims hospitalized after Thursday’s van attack — including one family in which two children and their father were recovering — and spoke with the medical staff at Barcelona’s Hospital del Mar. Catalonia’s emergency services said by Saturday night, 53 attack victims remained in the hospital, with 13 of them in critical condition. ___ 7: 25 p.m. The families of a group of young men in northern Spain who are attack suspects are denouncing terrorism. The families from Ripoll, where the entire Islamic State cell behind the deadly attacks in Barcelona and a seaside town is believed to have originated, arrived in a group Saturday in the town’s central square. Mothers and sisters tearfully insisted they did not know what had happened to their sons and brothers. Police on Saturday searched the home of a missing imam who is believed to have been the group’s ideological leader. The imam hasn’t been seen in Ripoll since June, according to the mosque where he abruptly quit his job. An official with knowledge of the investigation said authorities are looking into whether the imam was killed Wednesday in a botched bomb-making operation in a house south of Barcelona. ___ 5: 40 p.m. A police official in Spain says an imam whose home was searched as part of the investigation into two deadly vehicle attacks is believed to be the radicalizing force behind the cell of young men — and is now thought to have died in an explosion linked to the attacks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal details of the new suspicions surrounding imam Abdelbaki Es Satty. Officials in Es Satty’s former mosque in the northern town of Ripoll, which he left abruptly in June, on Saturday denounced the attacks in Barcelona and a nearby seaside town. The mosque president, Ali Yassine, said Es Satty told him he wanted to return to Morocco for three months and hasn’t seen him since. The police official says Es Satty is believed to have died in an explosion Wednesday that destroyed a house south of Barcelona. The two vehicle attacks in Spain left 14 dead and over 120 wounded. Possible suspects whose names have emerged so far in the investigation are all from Ripoll. — By Joseph Wilson, Alex Oller and Lori Hinnant ___ 5: 10 p.m. The Muslim community in the northern Spanish town of Ripoll has condemned the two deadly vehicle attacks that have been blamed on some local Moroccans. In a notice posted on a Ripoll mosque Saturday, the Annour Islamic Community of Ripoll said it wanted to offer its sympathy to the families of the victims and its solidarity with Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain. It said: “Faced with this criminal act, the Annour Islamic Community of Ripoll reiterates its complete commitment to the fight against any form of terrorism, and we hope that those responsible for this attack are arrested and taken before a judge as soon as possible.” Most of the main suspects in the twin attacks were Moroccans from Ripoll. The attacks in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils left 14 people dead and over 120 injured. ___ 4: 25 p.m. Catalan emergency services say they have identified seven of the 14 people killed in the attacks in Barcelona and the nearby seaside town of Cambrils. Of the 13 dead from the Barcelona attack, officials have identified four Spaniards, two Portuguese and one Italian. Family members or government officials also say an American man, another Italian man and a woman from Belgium were also killed there. The one fatality from the attack in Cambrils was a Spanish woman. The emergency service says Saturday that 54 people remained in the hospital, 12 of them in critical condition. They say 78 people have been released after being treated. ___ 3: 45 p.m. Excavation work is continuing at a house south of Barcelona where, according to Spanish police, members of an Islamic extremist cell plotted their attacks. The deputy mayor of Alcanar, Jordi Bort, says police are trying to determine if any explosives were still in the house, and to secure them through controlled explosions. The house was effectively destroyed on Wednesday during an accidental explosion. Authorities had initially dismissed the blast as a household gas accident, but now say it appears to be related to the plans for an even more deadly attack involving gas or explosives. One person was killed during the Wednesday blast. Bort says police are also looking to determine if human remains found at the site belong to a second victim. Bort says so far positive identification hasn’t been possible because DNA results haven’t come in yet. ___ 3: 30 p.m. Muslims in the hometown of suspects arrested over last week’s attacks in Spain have expressed their condolences to the victims. In a note posted Saturday on the door of the mosque in Ripoll, a quiet, upscale town of 10,000 about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Barcelona, the community said it condemned the attack. It said “The Annour Islamic Community of Ripoll expresses its strongest condemnation and rejection of the terrorist attack committed on Thursday in Barcelona. “Catalan Muslims express their sympathy for the families of the victims, wishing for the complete recovery of the injured, and offering their solidarity with the people of Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain. “Faced with this criminal act, the Annour Islamic Community of Ripoll reiterates its complete commitment to the fight against any form of terrorism, and we hope that those responsible for this attack are arrested and taken before a judge as soon as possible.” ___ 2: 55 p.m. Spain’s king and queen have visited the victims of the van attack in Barcelona who are recovering in local hospitals. A video posted on the Royal House Twitter account shows King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia visiting patients and speaking with the medical staff of Barcelona’s Hospital del Mar. The royal couple visited one family in which two children and their father were recovering from wounds received when a van plowed down the city’s main pedestrian promenade, killing 13 people and injuring 120 on Thursday.

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