NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Spain Mourns Attack Victims


Police in northern Spain are intensifying their search for suspects in last week's terror attacks in Barcelona that killed 14 people and injured scores more. Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered at Barcelona's most famous church to pray for the victims and for peace. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is in Barcelona. Soraya, what's the latest in the investigation?

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: Well, police are saying that the three vans that were used by this terror cell were rented by the suspected driver in the promenade attack. The other two were found, one in the town of Ripoll, where most of the terror cell members lived or where from. And another one was found in another town that was sort of halfway in between. Meanwhile, in the town of Alcanar, which is where the house was that they were using as a base, the Catalan police chief is reporting that a hundred tanks of butane gas were found there. They were trying to build bombs with these. And that house exploded in the end. And I should also mention that they did find some TATP, which is an explosive material used by ISIS in the Paris and Brussels attacks.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So remind us who the police are looking for right now.

NELSON: Well, there are three people who are unaccounted for. But it's pretty clear to the police - or they're pretty certain that two of them might have been killed in this house explosion that I mentioned before. The third person is the suspected driver. That's the one that, really, the intensive manhunt is going after. His - he is 22 years old, and his name is Younes Abouyaaqoub. And they aren't 100 percent sure that in this house exploded - that the Muslim cleric who was actually the spiritual ring leader - whether he was killed there. So they are looking for him, as well.

Abdelbaki Es Satty is his name. And he was the one, again, who recruited and radicalized the young men. I should mention that the mother of the suspected driver, Abouyaaqoub, is telling Spanish media that she really wants her son to give himself up - that she wants him to be in jail rather than dead. And she and other Muslims in this little town of Ripoll are just flabbergasted by what happened. They said they knew nothing about this at all. And they are, quote, "quite broken with pain."

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All of these suspects were Moroccan citizens - am I right? - or of Moroccan descent. Has there been backlash against the Moroccan community in Catalonia?

NELSON: Yes. Unfortunately, there are these reports coming in. This morning, there was a report of a Moroccan man who was shot in the leg in the city of Barcelona. And then a distance away in Tarragona, there was a mosque and Moroccan consulate that, a few days ago, were apparently defaced. And also, some of the Moroccans that that I've spoken to here in Barcelona report being heckled and, you know, having abusive things said to them, go back to where you came from. And they're quite frightened. But Catalonia's minister for foreign affairs, Raul Romeva, says that curbing immigration or taking other punitive steps against the Moroccan community will be a victory for the terrorists.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We have confirmed that one of the youngest victims is now confirmed dead. Can you tell us about that? And what's the latest of the other people who were injured in this attack?

NELSON: Yes, this little boy, 7-year-old Julian Cadman - he's from Australia. He has a Filipino mother. And he also has dual, like, Australian and British citizenship. He had been declared missing. It was interesting. He sort of became this - part of this international back and forth, if you will. The Australians, Filipinos and British authorities were saying that this child was missing. He was with his mother when the van came through, and he was plowing through pedestrians. His mother was badly injured. But the boy was gone. And the Catalonians were saying, no, everybody's accounted for. There's no one missing. But it took a while to identify the dead. I mean, they're still going through that process. And so that's what happened today. They did identify this little 7-year-old boy. So, sadly, he is perished.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Barcelona. Thank you so much.

NELSON: You're welcome, Lulu.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAURA VEIRS'S "IKARIA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Special correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and read at From 2012 until 2018 Nelson was NPR's bureau chief in Berlin. She won the ICFJ 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award for her work in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.