Four men arrested over last week’s terror attacks in Spain appeared in court as it emerged that the car used in one of the assaults was earlier seen in Paris.
The attack in Cambrils came just hours after a van plowed through crowds on a pedestrian street in the heart of Barcelona on Thursday, killing at 13 people and injuring more than 100 others.
Spanish police shot dead Younes Abouyaaqoub, the suspected driver of the van, on Monday after a days-long international manhunt.
On Tuesday, Collomb told CNN affiliate BFMTV that he was unsure why the car used in the Cambrils rampage had been in Paris, and said the terror cell behind the attacks was not on the radar of French authorities.
Four suspected members of the cell — Driss Oukabir, Mohammed Aalla, Mohamed Houli Chemlal and Salah el Karib — arrived at Madrid’s High Court on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after police killed Abouyaaqoub during an operation in Subirats, west of Barcelona.
Van driver shot dead
Police deployed a robot to remove what turned out to be a fake explosives belt from Abouyaaqoub’s body before officers were cleared to approach it and make a positive identification, authorities said Monday. The suspect also had knives in his possession when he was shot, said José Lluís Trapero, head of Catalan police.
A woman alerted authorities after seeing police photos of Abouyaaqoub and becoming suspicious that the man was wearing long sleeves when it was about 85 degrees (30 degrees Celsius) outside, Trapero said. Witness accounts suggest Abouyaaqoub was alone when police arrived, he said.
Police killed Abouyaaqoub in a rural area, sparsely populated and surrounded by pine trees. After the gunfire, a police helicopter circled overhead. Several police officers and squad cars were nearby, but few onlookers.
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Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan national, is believed to have been the driver of the van that sped down Las Ramblas in the center of Barcelona on Thursday, leaving dead and injured people in its wake.
Investigators said Abouyaaqoub fled the scene on foot and hijacked a car to escape. Abouyaaqoub allegedly stabbed the owner of the car, Pau Pérez, as he parked the vehicle, and drove off with the man’s body in the car.
Police fired on the car after it rammed through a checkpoint, but Abouyaaqoub was able to flee a second time. Pérez was found dead in the vehicle, making him the 15th victim of the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.
Abouyaaqoub was one of 12 suspects linked to the attacks. Eight of them lived in the town of Ripoll, north of Barcelona, where further raids were carried out on Sunday night.
Authorities said none of the suspects had any previous link to terror activities.
The investigation has focused on a property in Alcanar, a coastal village southwest of Barcelona, that exploded last Wednesday.
The house is suspected of having been used as a base to make bombs that could have caused even more devastating attacks had they not blown up prematurely.
A source briefed on the probe said a preliminary assessment indicated there were traces of the powerful explosive TATP in the rubble. TATP was used in a series of deadly bombing attacks in Europe in recent years.
Police believe Muslim cleric Abdelbakir El-Satty is among those who died in the Alcanar blast.
The cleric once served a jail sentence for drug trafficking in the eastern Spanish province of Castellon, Catalan Justice Minister Carles Mundó i Blanch said.
Some Spanish media reported he shared a jail cell with one of the terrorists involved in the 2004 Madrid bombings that killed at least 191 people and left hundreds injured.
Responding to those reports, Blanch said, “We are not aware that this person had any communication with any inmate in any prison in Catalonia. He finished his sentence and went free.”