Spanish police have announced that the perpetrators of the twin terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils were preparing for an even bigger assault but were thwarted in their plans by an explosion in Alcanar, forcing them to take quick action.
“They were preparing one or several attacks in Barcelona and an explosion in Alcanar stopped this as they no longer had the material they needed to commit attacks of an even bigger scope," said Josep Lluis Trapero of Catalonia's police on Friday.
Police pointed out on Friday that the Daesh attacks that killed 14 and wounded over 100 more in a bustling tourist area of Barcelona and another Spanish seaside resort affected people of at least 34 different nationalities.
The dead and injured came from countries as varied as the UK, France, Venezuela, Australia, Ireland, Peru, Algeria and China.
Authorities, however, haven't been able to definitely identify the driver of the van in the Barcelona attack that killed at least 13 people.
Trapero said four suspects are in custody: three Moroccans and a Spaniard. He says that none of them had a record of terror activity although one was known to police for petty crimes.
Hours after the Barcelona attack, a car struck pedestrians in the seaside town of Cambrils, killing a woman and injuring others.
Trapero added that the Cambrils and Barcelona attacks were linked as is an abandoned van and a house south of Barcelona destroyed in an explosion in which a man was killed on Wednesday night.
On Thursday, a van rammed into a multitude of people on Rambla avenue in the center of the Spanish city of Barcelona, killing over a dozen of them. The driver fled the scene.
In the early hours of Friday morning, in the town of Cambrils, 100 kilometers away from Barcelona, “alleged terrorists” drove into pedestrians before being shot dead by security forces.
One of the pedestrians died, another sustained serious injuries, and five others light to moderate injuries, in the attack.
“The alleged terrorists were in an Audi A3 and apparently knocked down several people before coming across a police patrol and a shoot-out ensued,” said a spokesman for the regional government of Catalonia, where Cambrils is located, in Spain’s northeast.
The five attackers, who were wearing explosive vests, were then shot dead, police said. The bomb vests were detonated by the force’s bomb squad. Police say one of the five could have been the missing driver of the Barcelona van.
Two explosions occurred at a house in the town of Alcanar, 130 km south of Barcelona, in the early hours of Thursday.
Police said the residents had been preparing explosives when the blasts took place.
At least one person died and more than 16 were injured in the blast thought to be a gas explosion.
The Barcelona attack was the deadliest attack in Spain since March 2004, when Takfiri militants placed bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,800.