The Latest: Las Ramblas barriers idea considered inefficient

Spain Attacks_529095

A memorial tribute of flowers, messages and candles to the van attack victims is seen on the historic Las Ramblas promenade, in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday Aug. 20, 2017. Authorities in Spain and France pressed the search Saturday for the supposed ringleader of an Islamic extremist cell that carried out vehicle attacks in Barcelona and a […]

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The Latest on the two vehicle attacks in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils (all times local):

7:45 a.m.

A Catalan official says regional and local authorities discarded the Spanish government’s suggestion to place traffic barriers to protect the Las Ramblas promenade because they deemed them “inefficient.”

Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont told La Sexta television that regional and municipal authorities discarded the suggestion because the barriers wouldn’t have prevented vehicles from entering the promenade at other points. Besides that, Puigdemont said closing off Las Ramblas was impractical because emergency vehicles still would need to be able to access the area.

Reports say the suggestion was made after other big vehicle attacks in Europe, but the precise timing wasn’t clear.

On Thursday, an attacker drove a van down the promenade, killing 13 and injuring scores more. A subsequent attack in nearby town killed another person.


11:00 p.m.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has held a Mass dedicated to the victims of the suspected Islamic extremist attacks around Barcelona.

The service also honored victims of other attacks and natural disasters around the world this summer.

The archbhishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, said in announcing Sunday’s gesture: “Unfortunately I know how much these murders can traumatize the whole population and that the presence of the church can help everyone to face this ordeal.”

Paris has been the target of repeated deadly attacks in recent years. At Notre Dame itself, an Algerian doctoral student tried to attack police with a hammer in June. There was an aborted attack last year near the cathedral by a suspected female extremist.

Thirty French citizens were among the 120 injured in the attacks in Barcelona and in nearby Cambrils that killed 14 people.


9:35 p.m.

Fans and players have held a minute’s silence in homage to Spain’s extremist attack victims prior to a soccer match between FC Barcelona and Betis at Camp Nou stadium.

Before the minute was up, tens of thousands of fans broke into a massive round of applause and began shouting the chant “I’m Not Afraid” that has become a rallying cry in the days since the attacks.

Similar tributes were to be held at all Spanish league matches this weekend.

Extra security was in force in and around Camp Nou for the match.


7:00 p.m.

Spanish police say they are trying to establish if a man found dead inside a car on the outskirts of Barcelona is another victim of the extremist attack in the city.

Senior regional police officer Josep Lluis Trapero said Sunday that investigators haven’t yet linked the man discovered inside a car that struck two officers at a police checkpoint to either the Las Ramblas van attack or its suspects.

Trapero says they are “working intensely on this inquiry.”

He says police fired on the car after it broke through the checkpoint within hours of the downtown attack Thursday. They initially thought they had killed the driver, but then discovered a dead person in the back seat.

An examination found no bullet wounds on the body, according to Trapero.

Trapero did not name the person found dead in the car nor say how he died.

He says a person was seen running near the vehicle and police are investigating whether this person was connected to the van attack.


4:40 p.m.

Spanish authorities say they have positively identified three more victims of the van attack in Barcelona, including a 7-year-old boy who has been missing since the rampage Thursday.

The Catalonia region’s emergency services said Sunday that a boy with dual Australian-British nationality was one of the 13 people killed when a van swerved through a pedestrian walkway in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district.

Nacho Solano, a spokesman for the Catalan government’s emergency services, confirms that the child was Julian Cadman, an Australian with dual British nationality.

The Australian, Philippines and British governments announced Friday that the 7-year-old son of a woman seriously injured in the attack had become separated from her and was missing.

The other two victims identified were said to be Belgian and Italian. Solano said he could not name them.


3:55 p.m.

Italy is calling for greater cooperation among European and north African intelligence agencies to share information about possible terrorist threats.

Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano made the comments Sunday as he paid respects at a makeshift memorial on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas promenade, where suspected Islamic extremists plowed down pedestrians on Thursday.

Three of 13 people killed were Italian.

Alfano noted that Italy to date had been spared the sort of attacks that have targeted France, Britain, Germany and now Spain. He attributed it to “extraordinary” intelligence work that Italy wants to share in a coordinated Mediterranean network.

Alfano acknowledged Islamic State threats saying Italy would be hit next, but said, “We don’t take a threat as something underway.”

He says Italy’s threat risk alert level was high and would remain high.


3 p.m.

A top Spanish police official says those behind the attacks on pedestrians had stored more than 100 gas tanks and explosive ingredients at a house in Alcanar that they accidently blew up.

Police official Josep Lluis Trapero told reporters at a news conference Sunday that the radical cell of 12 people “had planned one or more attacks with explosives” in Barcelona. The cell rented three vans and also used a car and motorcycle.

He said ingredients of the explosive TATP, which has been used by Islamic State extremists in other attacks, were found at the home in Alcanar that was destroyed Wednesday, along with more than 100 butane gas tanks. He says “that makes us think this is the place where they were preparing the explosives.”

He says the search for a missing fugitive has been complicated because authorities haven’t been able to positively identify the human remains at the house in Alcanar.


2 p.m.

Spanish authorities say they have been unable to identify the remains in at a house that exploded in Alcanar, complicating the manhunt for the Barcelona attackers because they are not confident about who is on the run.

Authorities believe the house, which sits on an unpaved road in the seaside town, was occupied illegally by the extremist cell that was behind two attacks on pedestrians in Barcelona and the nearby resort of Cambrils. The attacks Thursday and Friday left 14 dead and over 120 injured.

Police have not publicly identified the bodies from the blast Wednesday, which at first was considered a gas leak but now is thought to be terror-related activities. Police official Josep Lluis Trapero said Sunday the one man injured in the Alcanar explosion was arrested Thursday after the attack in Barcelona.

Alcanar mayor Alfons Montserrat tells Spanish media the house appears to belong to a bank and is in a quiet area with few people around.


1:35 p.m.

A top Spanish police official says there were 12 members of the cell behind the attacks on pedestrians in Barcelona and Cambrils but none “had precedents that linked them to terrorism, including the imam.”

Police official Josep Lluis Trapero told reporters at a news conference Sunday in Barcelona that “our thesis is that the group had planned one or more attacks with explosives in the city of Barcelona.” But he said officials have no concrete evidence about how a group of young men in the northeastern town of Ripoll were radicalized.

Their families say they had no idea that their sons, brothers or cousins were involved with terror attacks — and were shocked because they seemed like such integrated youths with jobs, cars and studies.

Trapero confirmed the one man injured in a house explosion Wednesday in Alcanar was arrested Thursday after the attack in Barcelona. Police believed the house in Alcanar was where the cell plotted its attacks.


12:50 p.m.

Police in Spain have linked three rental vans to the main fugitive from an Islamic extremist cell that carried out deadly vehicle attacks in Barcelona and a nearby seaside resort.

A police official says Sunday that all three vans were rented using the credit card of Younes Abouyaaquoub, the 22-year-old Moroccan suspected of plowing down pedestrians on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas promenade Thursday, killing 13 and injuring 120.

He remains at large and is the subject of a massive manhunt in northeastern Spain.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to talk about an ongoing investigation, said one of the vans was used in the Barcelona attack. Another was found in Vic, 70 kilometers (44 miles) north of Barcelona on the road to Ripoll, where all the main attack suspects lived. The third was found in Ripoll itself.

Police believe the cell wanted to fill the vehicles with explosives to create a massive attack. The plans changed, however, after the house where their plot was being hatched blew up Wednesday in Alcanar.

— By Joseph Wilson.


12:20 p.m.

Pope Francis is calling for an end to the “inhuman violence” that has targeted innocents in Burkina Faso, Spain and Finland in recent days.

Francis led the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday noon blessing in prayer for the victims, and said the world was carrying in its heart “the pain of these terrorist attacks.”

He begged God to “free the world from this inhuman violence.”

Eighteen people were killed in the Burkina Faso capital a week ago when Islamic extremists gunned down patrons at a popular restaurant. In Spain, members of an extremist cell mowed down pedestrians in Barcelona and a nearby seaside resort, killing 14 and injuring more than 120.

In Finland on Friday, an 18-year-old Moroccan asylum seeker stabbed two people to death and wounded seven.


11:50 a.m.

Vancouver police say 53-year-old Canadian Ian Moore Wilson was among those killed in the Barcelona attacks and his wife Valerie was wounded.

The city police department issued a statement from Wilson’s daughter Fiona, a staff sergeant in the force, describing her father as an adventurous traveler and “much-loved husband, father, brother and grandfather.”

Fiona Wilson and the Vancouver police thanked the emergency workers and others who helped her father in his final moments and got assistance for her mother.

She wrote “in the midst of this tragedy, my dad would want those around him to focus on the extraordinary acts of human kindness that our family has experienced over the past several days, and that is exactly what we intend to do.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said one Canadian was killed and four injured in Thursday’s extremist attack.


11:20 a.m.

The archbishop of Barcelona is calling for Spain to unite to work for a more peaceful world following the deadly dual vehicle attacks claimed by Islamic extremists.

Cardinal Joan Josep Omella welcomed families of the victims, representatives of Catalonia’s Muslim community, as well as Spain’s royals and top government officials, to the Mass Sunday at the city’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica.

In his homily, he said the presence of so many people was a “beautiful mosaic” of unity to work for a common objective of “peace, respect, fraternal coexistence and love.”

He read aloud a telegram of condolences sent by Pope Francis, who called the attacks a “cruel terrorist act” and a “grave offense to God.”

Two attacks on pedestrians Thursday and Friday in Barcelona and nearby Cambrils left 14 dead and over 120 wounded.


10:35 a.m.

A Mass in honor of the victims of Spain’s vehicle attacks is underway at Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia basilica, the unfinished Art Nouveau masterpiece of architect Antoni Gaudi that is a symbol of European Christianity.

Cardinal Joan Josep Omella, the archbishop of Barcelona, is celebrating the Mass in the presence of Spain’s royals and top officials including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

With its soaring towers, intricate sculptures and stained glass windows, the “Holy Family” church is dedicated to the Christian concept of family and faith. It was begun in 1882 and is not expected to be finished until 2026.

When Pope Benedict XVI consecrated it in 2010, he declared it “a magnificent achievement of engineering, art and faith.”

Two attacks on pedestrians Thursday and Friday in Barcelona and nearby Cambrils left 14 dead and over 120 wounded.


9:45 a.m.

Spain’s king and queen and its prime minister will be attending a solemn Mass at Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia basilica for the victims of the terror attacks that killed 14 people and wounded over 120.

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, along with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont and other officials, are expected for the Mass celebrated Sunday by the archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Joan Josep Omella.

On Saturday, Spain’s royals visited injured attack victims in local hospitals, placed a wreath and candles at the attack site on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas promenade and signed a book of condolences at Barcelona city hall.

Thursday’s van attack in Barcelona killed 13 people. Hours later, a car attack in the seaside town of Cambrils killed another person early Friday. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.


9:25 a.m.

Spanish police have put up scores of roadblocks across the northeast in their manhunt for the suspected driver of the van that plowed into pedestrians in Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring over 120.

Police in Catalonia are searching Sunday for Younes Abouyaaquoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan suspected of carrying out the attack Thursday claimed by the Islamic State group. Local media says the manhunt is concentrating on the towns of Ripoll and Manlleu.

The investigation is also focusing on a missing imam who police believe could have died in a massive house explosion Wednesday. Police believe Abdelbaki Es Satty radicalized the young men in the extremist cell, which may have accidently blown up a house in the seaside town of Alcanar.

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