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How the van driver escaped from La Rambla

Death toll rises to 15 as car owner stabbed at Barcelona city limits is included in attack casualties

 

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21 August 2017 08:04 PM

by

Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

The terrorist behind the wheel of the van driven into crowds on Barcelona’s La Rambla escaped on foot for over six kilometres, before robbing a car after stabbing the owner to death, and fleeing westbound. In around two hours he had vanished. In the meantime, his identity was made public: Younes Abouyaaqoub. Finding him became the top priority. Catalan police found him on Monday, when he was shot down.

Attacker identity confirmed

In a press conference, the Catalan police chief, Josep Lluís Trapero, explained Abouyaaqoub‘s movements before and after the events of Thursday’s attack. He was involved in renting the van on Wednesday, as his documents are linked to it, while on Thursday, he drove to La Rambla from an undisclosed place and perpetrated the attack at around 5pm.

What Abouyaaqoub did after killing 13 people

After jumping out of the van, Abouyaaqoub walked a few meters to the Boqueria market. He crossed the market, as footage shows, and then walked and ran all the way across the Catalan capital. He was seen by some witnesses with footage also showing that he went past Nicaragua street and was in the vicinity of Camp Nou. In fact, he was only 100 meters away from FC Barcelona’s stadium. Abouyaaqoub had covered a distance of six kilometers, before getting to the University quarter and stabbing a man to death who was parking his car in the student parking lot. This happened between 6.10 and 6.20pm.

How he escaped from police

The attacker moved the car owner’s corpse into the passenger seats and immediately started down Diagonal avenue towards the westbound exit of Barcelona. However, at Barcelona’s city limits he came across a police checkpoint, which had been set up at all the city exits. With a corpse still in the car, Abouyaaquob drove through the checkpoint, injuring an officer. The police shot at the car but the suspect managed to flee. At around 7pm the car was found abandoned in the town of Sant Just Desvern.

The officers first thought that the body inside was the driver who they had shot at, but in reality the attacker had already escaped. Abouyaaquob’s whereabouts is now the question that concerns the police the most. The police chief explained that they found the man along with a suspicious bag, so had to call in officers specialized in explosives. Some hours later, the forensic evidence ruled out that the man had been killed by the police.

Death toll up to 15 and 50 still in hospital

Trapero confirmed that the events at Barcelona’s westbound exit are now officially linked to the attacks, which means that the death toll has gone up from 14 to 15, as the man stabbed to death had not until then been counted among the casualties. All of victims have now been officially identified. Minister Forn said that there were 126 people hospitalized because of the events on the Rambla and in Cambrils, although 76 had been discharged. Another 50 are still in hospital, nine of whom are in a critical condition.  

Further coordination meetings by Catalan officials

According to Trapero, confirming the identities of those killed in the Alcanar house blast is imminent. So far, the remains of two people have been found and DNA tests are shortly due to confirm their identities. Other unresolved mysteries have already been pinned down over the past few hours, but the Catalan coordination center is to meet this evening at 6pm. It might be its final meeting after four days of almost non-stop work, with its members including civil protection, Barcelona local government officials and representatives of the different police forces in Catalonia. The Catalan antiterrorist cabinet is due to meet at 4pm.

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