Amir Condemns Barcelona Attack, Condolences To King

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Kuwaiti woman faints after witnessing attack; Embassy secures 70 citizens

Cell dismantled … Van driver ‘on run’

 

Spain, Aug 19, (Agencies): Police were on Saturday searching for the driver of a van that ploughed into a crowd in Barcelona, killing 13 people, but the government said the suspected Islamist militant cell behind the attack had been dismantled.

Police have arrested four people in connection with the attack in Barcelona on Thursday and another in the Catalan seaside town of Cambrils, where a woman was killed when a car rammed passersby early on Friday.

Police shot dead five attackers in Cambrils and said they were wearing fake explosive belts and had an axe and knives in the vehicle. None of the five are believed to be the driver who sped into Las Ramblas, leaving a trail of dead and injured among the crowds of tourists and local residents strolling in the Barcelona boulevard.

Catalan police said they were still looking for a man identified by the mayor’s office in the town of Ripoll, where several of the suspected attackers lived, as 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub. Spanish media reported that Abouyaaqoub was the driver of the van in Barcelona but the police could not confirm it.

The Spanish government said it now considered the cell behind the attacks out of action, though police in Catalonia would not confirm this. “The cell has been fully dismantled in Barcelona, after examining the people who died, the people who were arrested and carrying out identity checks,” Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido told a news conference. He said Spain was maintaining its security alert level at four, one notch below the maximum level that would indicate another attack was imminent, but would reinforce security in crowded areas and tourist hotspots.

Amir condemns

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of condolences Thursday to King Felipe VI of Spain for the loss of life of many people in Barcelona terror attack. In the cable, His Highness the Amir expressed Kuwait’s strong condemnation of the assault in which a van rammed into a gathering in Barcelona city center, killing and injuring dozens of people.

His Highness also affirmed Kuwait’s firm stand against all forms and manifestations of terrorism, reiterating Kuwait’s support of all necessary procedures the Spanish government takes to ensure the country’s security and stability. His Highness the Amir also expressed his deep sadness for the fall of innocent victims in heinous terrorist attack, praying for the deceased ones to rest in peace, and hoping speedy reecovery for the injured.

Meanwhile, His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al- Sabah sent similar cables to the Spanish king.

Vehicles as weapons

In the past 13 months, militants have used vehicles as weapons to kill nearly 130 people in France, Germany, Britain, Sweden and Spain. The driver in the Barcelona attack abandoned the van and fled on foot on Thursday after ploughing into the crowd.

Fifty people were still in hospital on Saturday following that attack, with 12 in a critical condition. Many were foreign tourists. The Mediterranean region of Catalonia is thronged in the summer months with visitors drawn to its beaches and the port city of Barcelona’s museums and tree-lined boulevards.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks in Cambrils and Barcelona, a statement by the jihadist group said on Saturday. Police raided a flat in Ripoll on Friday, its ninth raid on homes in the town so far, in its hunt for people connected to the attacks.

The latest flat raided had been occupied by a man named as Abdelbaki Es Satty, according to a search warrant seen by Reuters. Neighbours said he was an imam. His landlord said he had last been seen on Tuesday.

Scraps of paper covered in notes were strewn around the flat, which had been turned upside down during the police search.

Three Moroccans and a citizen of Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla have been arrested so far in connection with the attacks. Another three people have been identified but it is unclear whether they are still at large. Spanish media said two of them may have been killed in Alcanar, where a house was razed by an explosion shortly before midnight on Wednesday, and the third is Abouyaaqoub.

Police believe the house in Alcanar was being used to plan one or several large-scale attacks in Barcelona, possibly using a large number of butane gas canisters stored there.

Of the 14 dead in the two attacks, five are Spanish, two are Italians, two are Portuguese, one Belgian, one Canadian and one US citizen, emergency services and authorities from those countries have confirmed so far.

A seven-year-old boy who had been missing since the attack in Barcelona was found on Saturday in one of the city’s hospitals and was in a serious condition, El Pais newspaper reported.

Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia visited the injured — who are of many different nationalities ranging from France and Germany to Pakistan and the Philippines and are in various Barcelona hospitals.

Kuwaiti woman faints

The State of Kuwait Embassy in Spain affirmed on Friday that all necessary measures had been taken to secure the Kuwaiti tourists and cater to their needs “since the moment the attack was launched in Barcelona.” Ambassador Dr Suleiman Al-Harbi said in a statement to KUNA that, upon instructions by First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al- Sabah and Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Suleiman Al-Jarallah, he had dispatched a three-member team to Barcelona to determine whether there was any Kuwaiti tourist among the crowds where the attack happened.

Moreover, a follow-up panel was established at the embassy to respond to any emergency or query related to the event. The diplomatic team located 70 Kuwaiti tourists in the areas, surrounded by the government forces, and transferred them to a hotel in a secured area. Residency and meals’ costs were all at the expense of the diplomatic mission, the ambassador added.

There were no casualties among the Kuwaitis, except for a lady who fainted after seeing the horrific scene, he said, adding that he was assured about her condition after the incident. Today, the dragnet was lifted and life restored normalcy in Barcelona and all the Kuwaitis returned to their residences, ambassador Al-Harbi explained further to the national news agency.

 

He affirmed that action would proceed to ensure further that not a single Kuwaiti was hurt in the attack and expressed gratitude to the UAE diplomatic mission for aiding the Kuwaiti team and diplomats. A Kuwaiti office will be opened at the UAE general consulate in Barcelona to follow up on such tasks.

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