Spain attacks said linked as fresh arrest made amid hunt for van driver
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Spain attacks said linked as fresh arrest made amid hunt for van driver

Gas explosion in town of Alcanar Wednesday night also thought connected to deadly Barcelona terrorism and similar car-ramming in resort town of Cambrils

A policeman stands by a car involved in a terrorist attack in Cambrils, a city 120 kilometers south of Barcelona, on August 18, 2017. (AFP/LLUIS GENE)
A policeman stands by a car involved in a terrorist attack in Cambrils, a city 120 kilometers south of Barcelona, on August 18, 2017. (AFP/LLUIS GENE)

BARCELONA, Spain — The Catalan government said an attack in the seaside resort town of Cambrils was linked to the vehicle attack on a popular Barcelona promenade that killed 13 people, as a new arrest was made amid a manhunt for the driver in the first attack.

The region’s Interior Minister Joaquin Forn told local radio RAC1 early Friday that the Cambrils attack “follows the same trail. There is a connection.”

He did not explain what connected the attacks. He confirmed the driver in the Barcelona attack remains at large.

Forn told Catalunya Radio later Friday that a third person was arrested in connection with the Barcelona van attack that killed at least 13 people.

The suspect was taken into custody in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll, he said.

The Cambrils attack involved five suspects who carried bomb belts. Police shot and killed the suspects and detonated their explosives in a controlled blast.

Media reports said a car crashed into a police vehicle and nearby civilians and police shot the attackers, one of whom was brandishing a knife.

Police did not immediately say how the attack was carried out.

A police officer and five civilians were injured; two were in serious condition.

Police are working on the theory that the Cambrils and Barcelona attacks are connected, as well as a Wednesday night explosion in the town of Alcanar in which one person was killed.

Mayor Cami Mendoza said the suspects centered their attack on the narrow path to Cambrils’s boardwalk.

Meanwhile, a manhunt is continuing for the driver in the Barcelona attack who drove his van onto a sidewalk along the popular Las Ramblas boulevard, killing 13 and injuring over 100.

France said 26 of its citizens were among the dozens injured in the van attack in Barcelona.

France’s Foreign Ministry said Friday at least 11 of the French nationals who were hurt had serious injuries.

Police officers stand next to the van involved on an attack in Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, August 17, 2017. (AP/Manu Fernandez)
Police officers stand next to the van involved in an attack in Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, August 17, 2017. (AP/Manu Fernandez)

Spanish authorities previously said the dead and injured are from 24 countries. Israeli officials say 28 people are unaccounted for, but none are thought to have been victims of the attack.

One of the dead was Belgian, and Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters: “We are concerned for one Australian who remains unaccounted for.”

Australia also said three of its citizens were injured, one seriously. Two with slight injuries were Taiwanese. A Greek woman and a Hong Kong resident were also hurt.

Injured people are treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists. (AP Photo/Oriol Duran)
Injured people are treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists. (AP Photo/Oriol Duran)

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to the extremist group’s calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

After the afternoon attack, Las Ramblas went into lockdown. Swarms of officers brandishing hand guns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafes and public transport to shut down.

A police officer gestures as he blocks a street in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 following a terror attack in which a white van jumped the sidewalk in the city's historic Las Ramblas district. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
A police officer gestures as he blocks a street in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 following a terror attack in which a white van jumped the sidewalk in the city’s historic Las Ramblas district. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Several hours later authorities reported two arrests, one a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish-run Mediterranean seafront enclave in North Africa, and the other a Moroccan. They declined to identify them.

Trapero said neither of them was the van’s driver, who remained at large after abandoning the van and fleeing on foot. The arrests took place in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll and in Alcanar, where a gas explosion in a house is being investigated for a possible connection.

Driss Oubakir, a suspect in Barcelona terror attack on August 17, 2017. (Spanish National Police handout)
Driss Oubakir, a suspect in Barcelona terror attack on August 17, 2017. (Spanish National Police handout)

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and other news outlets named one of the detained as Driss Oukabir, a French citizen of Moroccan origin. RTVE reported said Oukabir went to police in Ripoll to report that his identity documents had been stolen. Various Spanish media said the IDs with his name were found in the attack van and that he claimed his brother might have stolen them.

Media outlets ran photographs of Oukabir they said police had issued to identify one of the suspects. The regional police told the Associated Press that they had not distributed the photograph. They refused to say if he was one of the two detained.

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