Barcelona terror attack: Spain maintains alert level with reinforced security measures

Police check a drain outside a hospital where Spain’s King Felipe is due to visit some of the injured victims of the van attack in Barcelona , Spain, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez) Top News

The Spanish government decided to maintain its anti-terrorism alert level at 4 but pledged to reinforce security measures at the same time, the Interior Ministry said. The decision was made during an anti-terror meeting on Saturday chaired by Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido in the morning, Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 14 fatalities occurred in two terrorist attacks in the Spanish cities of Barcelona and Cambrils that also hurt about 126 people of 34 different nationalities. Thirteen people were killed on Thursday afternoon in the popular Las Ramblas area of Barcelona when a white van zigzagged at high speed down the busy avenue thronged with tourists, knocking down pedestrians.

On early Friday morning, the fourteenth victim, a woman, was stabbed when five people jumped out of a car and began attacking people at random on the seaside promenade in Cambrils, a town south of Barcelona. Spanish police gunned down all five attackers. Six others were also injured in the attack. As of Saturday morning, 54 injured people are still hospitalized with 12 of them in critical condition, according to Catalan emergency services.

Government of Catalonia considers the terrorist cell responsible for the double-attack has not been totally destroyed as some attackers are still at large, Catalan Minister of the Interior Joaquim Forn told reporters. “We are optimistic, but the searching operation conducted by the Mossos (police authority in Catalonia) can not be considered as finished until we determine and stop all the people who are members of the cell,” said Forn.

Meanwhile, Spanish authorities identified one fugitive terrorist as Younes Abouyaaqoub. Police are searching for the 23-year-old Moroccan in Ripoll near Barcelona. The suspect has been wanted by Interpol prior to the double attacks. Confusion still reigns over the identity of the van attack driver. The police firstly thought the driver was Moussa Oukabir, one of the terrorists gunned down in Cambrils, and later they turned their attention to Younes Abouyaaqoub.

Police authorities in Catalonia said that they are ruling out the possibility that the van’s driver would join the group that carried out the attack in Cambrils. So far, four people have been arrested and are being questioned by police.

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