Driver Suspected of Barcelona Van Attack Found, Shot Dead

Medical staff members and policemen stand in a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona
Scene in Barcelona following August attack / Getty Images

Police officers have shot and killed the fugitive thought to be responsible for last week's Barcelona terrorist attacks.

Younes Abouyaaquob, 22, was shot by police Monday afternoon, about 20 miles outside Barcelona, Spain, the New York Times reported. Authorities believe he is responsible for the deaths of 13 people after he plowed a van through a crowd in Barcelona last Thursday. Abouyaaquob fled the scene by stealing a car, killing the driver, and escaping with the driver's body still in the vehicle.

Subirats, a collection of villages 20 miles west of Barcelona, was placed on lockdown Monday after a man wearing an explosive belt was "shot down."

The body was identified as Abouyaaquob about two hours later. Police could not approach the body before a robot, operated by a police bomb squad, ruled out an danger.

The police said they were certain Abouyaaqoub was the driver of the van.

Authorities said the attacks may have been inspired by a local imam who died Wednesday after a house, which was being used as a bomb factory, blew up, the Times reported.

The imam, Abdelbaki Essati, preached in the town of Ripoll, home to many of the members of the terrorist cell, which the authorities say included at least 12 people.

Investigators believe the planning for the plot may have begun not long after Mr. Essati's arrival, a year ago, at the second of two mosques where he worked in Ripoll.

The police chief would not comment on whether the imam had ties to extremists or had spent time overseas. Essati did spend time in Spanish prison on drug-related charges, but had no record for any terrorist-related activities, according to the Times.

The death toll from the attacks reached 15 after a man died in a related attack in Cambrils, and the driver of Abouyaaquob's getaway car was pronounced dead.

Two of the 15 killed were children, and 50 victims remain injured in hospitals as of Monday. Twelve of the injured are in critical condition.