x

Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

One dead after van driven into two bus stops in Marseilles

Driver arrested but authorities still trying to determine motive

A van was deliberately driven into two bus stops in different parts of France’s second city, Marseilles, on Monday, killing one woman and injuring another in the latest vehicle attack on European cities.

A 35-year-old man, who has a criminal record involving theft, drugs and illegal arms but was not listed as a terrorist suspect, was arrested in Vieux Port, the city’s celebrated old port area popular with locals and tourists alike.

Police sealed off the port area and urged residents in a tweet to avoid the neighbourhood which is popular with tourists.

It was not immediately clear whether the driver had been planning a third attack. Local prosecutors said investigators were examining a theory that he had psychiatric problems rather than specific terrorist motivation.

The attacks, an hour apart in different residential areas of Marseilles, came four days after a hired van ploughed into crowds on Barcelona’s renowned central street, Las Ramblas, killing 13 and injuring more than 100.

The driver - also suspected of the murder, more than an hour later, of a man whose car he stole - was identified by Spanish authorities yesterday as Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22.

He is said to the only member still at large from the cell responsible for the vehicle attacks on Las Ramblas last Thursday and, several hours later, in the resort of Cambrils, 110 kilometres south-west of Barcelona.

One woman died in the second of those attacks, carried out by five men in an Audi A3 who were armed with knives and wearing fake suicide belts. All were shot dead at the scene.

The search for Abouyaaqoub has spread to the rest of Europe amid suspicion that he may have slipped across the French border. In new CCTV footage from Las Ramblas, he is seen escaping from the scene of the attack on foot.

Spanish officials said on Monday that the murder of Pau Perez after the Barcelona attack was being treated as part of the same incident. Police believe Abouyaaqoub may have killed him while stealing his car as part of his attempts to avoid capture.

"This person is no longer just being sought in Catalonia but in all European countries, this is an effort by European police," Joaquim Forn, in charge of home affairs in the northeastern Spanish region, told Catalan radio.

__________

Read more:

Spain attacks: who are the terrorists?

Father of Barcelona suspects blames local imam for radicalising youth

'How-to guide' to protect Australian from vehicle attacks

__________

Authorities have stepped up checks at Spain's borders.

They also raided more homes overnight in Ripoll, a town in the foothills of the Pyrenees and close to France where many of the suspects in the 12-strong cell had lived.

Others thought to be part of the suspected Islamist militant network have been arrested, shot by police or killed in an explosion at a house in Catalonia a day before Thursday's van attack.

* Additional reporting by Reuters