When we described the second terrorist attack to take place in Spain, around midnight local time in the resort town of Cambrils, in which local police killed 5 people who had run over civilians and in which the terrorists were said to have carried "explosives attached to the body", we asked "has Spain become the focal point of another suicide bombing terrorist cell?"
Moments ago we got what appears to be an affirmative answer, when the police chief heading the investigation said on Friday that the terrorists behind the Barcelona attack had planned a devastating assault with explosives and may have rammed pedestrians with vehicles after their initial plan failed. According to Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero, who spoke to reporters moments ago, the large explosion in the early hours of Thursday which brought down a building in Alcanar - where police think a group of terrorists had been plotting an attack for some time - deprived the terrorists of bomb-making material. This forced them to carry out the twin attacks on Barcelona and Cambrils “in a more rudimentary way.”
"The explosion in Alcanar stopped larger attacks from happening because they no longer had some of the material they needed,” Trapero said.
He also said that “It was a group, we do not know the specific number, but we do not rule out that they had other attacks in mind.” and added that there was a “clear link” between the Alcanar explosion and the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.
Curiously, Trapero also confirmed that the Cambrils attackers were wearing fake suicide belts. “they were carrying belts which looked like suicide vests, but in the end they turned out to be fake. They were trying to simulate explosives,” he said. He said the investigation is focused on those in the building in Alcanar and the vehicles in Barcelona and Cambrils.
"We think they [the suspects in Alcanar] were preparing at least one or more attacks in Barcelona. The explosion took out some of the material they were counting on to carrying out even bigger attacks, than the ones that happened."
The Catalan police chief also revealed that a single police officer killed four of the suspects who carried out the attack in the Catalan seaside town of Cambrils. A total of five suspects were killed after the Cambrils attack in which a car plowed into a crowd, killing a woman.
More importantly, Trapero confirmed that the driver of the Barcelona van has still not been identified. He said that one of the five suspects killed in Cambrils could have been the driver in Barcelona. He added: “We’re working on the hypothesis that the authors [of the attacks] had been planning them both for a while in the building in Alcanar, but we can’t join up all the scenarios. It was a group - we don’t have a concrete number - but we’re not discounting the idea that they were planning other attacks.”
Trapero said there would be more news in a few hours.