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Suspected Van Driver In Barcelona Attack Shot Dead By Police

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

Police have shot and killed Younes Abouyaaqoub, the alleged driver of a van that plowed into pedestrians last week in Barcelona, Catalonia's president confirmed Monday. He said the suspect was wearing what turned out to be a fake explosives belt.

Carles Puigdemont, president of Spain's autonomous Catalonia region, said at a news conference that Abouyaaqoub was shot after police responded to tips from the public that led them to the town of Subirats, just west of Barcelona. One woman at a train station recognized Abouyaaqoub from images she'd seen on television. Later, another woman in Subirats said she also recognized him, and that he was wearing a jacket or long sleeves that didn't seem appropriate for the weather.

Police found Abouyaaqoub in some vineyards near a gas station. He lifted his shirt to expose the fake belt and said "God is great" in Arabic, Puigdemont said. Two officers then pulled weapons and fired. The suspect's identity was confirmed by fingerprints, according to the president.

Puigdemont also confirmed that Abdelbaki Es Satty, the imam who authorities say radicalized members of what they call a jihadist cell, was killed in a house explosion in the town of Alcanar on Wednesday, a day before the vehicle attacks. Authorities believe the explosion was the result of a failed attempt to make a bomb and that the deadly vehicle attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils were a fallback plot.

In an earlier tweet, Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalan police force, said they confirmed that Abouyaaqoub, who they described as the "author of the terrorist attack in #barcelona" had been "shot down" in Subirats.

Police also tweeted that they used a robot to approach the body.

Abouyaaqoub, 22, was the last of a dozen suspects still sought in last week's attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.

He was believed to have been the driver of a van that smashed into pedestrians on the Las Ramblas promenade in Barcelona on Thursday, killing 13 people there.

Hours after that attack, another person was killed in a separate car-ramming in the seaside resort of Cambrils, where several members of the alleged terror cell were also wearing what turned out to be fake explosives belts.

On Monday, authorities said that while fleeing the scene of his initial attack, Abouyaaqoub hijacked a car and stabbed to death its occupant. That brings the total number of people killed as a result of last Thursday's attacks to 15.

Four people have been arrested in the attacks: three Moroccans and a Spanish citizen. The remaining eight members of what authorities have described as a jihadist cell are believed to have been killed.

"Today the 12 names that we have always referred to are in the hands of the justice system, or sadly, as a result of their actions, have been killed," Catalan police Chief Josep Lluis Trapero, told reporters, according to Reuters.

This is a breaking news story. As often happens in situations like these, some information reported early may turn out to be inaccurate. We'll move quickly to correct the record and we'll only point to the best information we have at the time.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: August 22, 2017 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont as Piugdemont.
Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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