21 Aug 2017

Police identify Barcelona suspect, expand search

8:52 pm on 21 August 2017

The hunt for a man who drove a van down Barcelona's most famous boulevard, killing 13 people, has been extended to other European countries, a Catalan government official says.

Police patrol Barcelona's Las Ramblas over the weekend following a terrorist attack that killed 13 people.

Police patrol Barcelona's Las Ramblas over the weekend following a terrorist attack that killed 13 people. Photo: AFP

Police are searching for Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan-born man, who they believe was the driver.

Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, has emerged as the main suspect in the Barcelona attack

Younes Abouyaaqoub Photo: AFP / Mossos D'Esquadra

Spanish police have been searching for Mr Abouyaaqoub - the only one of 12 suspects still at large - for several days but authorities had yet to identify him as the man behind the wheel of the van.

Asked on Catalan radio on Monday whether Mr Abouyaaqoub was the driver, Joaquim Forn, who runs home affairs in Catalonia's regional government said, "This is one of the lines of enquiry. It's the main one. Everything points to that. Today we will explain the evidence and why we have come to that conclusion."

Police carried out more raids overnight at homes in the town of Ripoll, where many of the suspects lived, Mr Forn said.

Authorities could not rule out on Sunday that Mr Abouyaaqoub had not slipped across the border into France.

"This person is no longer just being sought in Catalonia but in all European countries, this is an effort by European police," Mr Forn told Catalan radio.

Others thought to be part of a 12-strong cell have been arrested, shot by police, or were killed in an explosion at a house in Catalonia a day before Thursday's van attack.

- Reuters