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Homeland Security

Spanish Police Make 4th Arrest Following Terror Attacks

By VOA News August 18, 2017

Catalan police have arrested a fourth man in connection with two terrorist attacks in the Barcelona region Thursday that left at least 14 people dead and dozens more injured.

Police announced the arrest on Twitter Friday, but gave no further details.

Police said they are still searching for the brother of one of the men already in police custody, but they do not know whether he was the driver of the van.

"We are looking for Moussa Oukabir, but for the moment we don't know whether he was the driver of the van," police announced.

The man's brother, Driss Oukabir, was arrested Thursday about 100 kilometers north of Barcelona, in the town of Ripoll.

The mayhem began Thursday in Barcelona when a terrorist used a van to run over innocent pedestrians on Las Ramblas boulevard, killing 14 people and injuring 100 others.

The van driver escaped on foot and is still being sought. Police arrested two people Thursday – a Moroccan and a Spaniard – but it was not immediately clear how they are connected with the attack. A third person was arrested Friday in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll, Catalonia Interior Minister Joaquim Forn said.

In a similar attack hours later in Cambrils, a resort south of Barcelona, an automobile careened into pedestrians and a police vehicle. Police killed the five attackers, who they said also carried explosive belts, which were later found to be fake. One woman died Friday from injuries in that attack. Five other civilians and a police officer were injured.

Forn said Friday the Cambrils attack "follows the same trail" as the attack in Barcelona, he added, "There is a connection," without giving further details.

"They are assassins, criminals who won't terrorize us. All of Spain is Barcelona," Spain's royal family said in statement.

Police believe the attacks also are connected to an explosion Wednesday in a house in Catalonia that killed one person. Authorities suspect the people in the house were building an explosive device to be used in a terrorist attack.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the deadly Barcelona rampage.

Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy called the van attack "jihadist terrorism."

"Today, the fight against terrorism is the principal priority for free and open societies like ours. It is a global threat and the response has to be global," Rajoy told reporters.

Thousands observed a minute of silence Friday in Barcelona's main square for the victims of the two vehicular attacks.

Spain's king and prime minister attended the observance at Barcelona's Placa de Catalunya. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy also declared three days of national mourning.

Victims from across Europe, US

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Friday that 26 French citizens were among those injured in Barcelona. He said 11 are in serious condition. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, however, said in a radio interview that "the number of those who have been seriously injured may perhaps be even higher at around 17."

Le Drian said in a statement that he will be in Barcelona on Friday "to visit the French victims of this cowardly act and affirm France's support to the Spanish people and authorities."

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed that at least one American citizen was killed in the attacks, though he noted that Washington is "still confirming the deaths and injuries."

"We offer our thoughts and prayers to their families," Tillerson said.

The State Department later confirmed that another American was injured in the attack, but did not release personal details.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said two Italians were killed in the van attack.

"Italy remembers Bruno Gulotta and Luca Russo and gathers tight around their families. Freedom will conquer the barbarianism of terrorism," he said.

World leaders pledge unity, resolve

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter the U.S. "will do whatever is necessary to help" Spain, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned, "Terrorists around the world should know, the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice."

US Officials Condemn Barcelona Van Attack, Offer Assistance to Spain

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking in Berlin, said "These murderous attacks have once again showed us the total hatred of humanity with which Islamist terrorism acts." She said, "We will not allow these murderers to make us depart from our path, from our way of life."

French President Emmanuel Macron said his thoughts were with the victims of the attack, and that France remains "united and determined." In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was dark Thursday night to pay tribute to the victims.

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he was "horrified by reports from Barcelona."

Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen said Europe has "again been attacked by terror."

"So long as the terrorists underestimate the spirit of the societies they seek to undermine, they will lose," Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said about Barcelona.

The yellow and red colors of the Spanish flag lit up Tel Aviv's City Hall Thursday night, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the civilized world must fight terrorism together and defeat it.

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