Moussa Oukabir search: Barcelona attack suspect described by friend as 'normal, nice boy'

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A third person has been arrested amid a major manhunt for the suspected driver of a van that ploughed into terrified tourists and locals in Barcelona.

Police were scouring the country in their hunt for Morocco-born Moussa Oukabir, who was believed to be on the run following the attack.

Detectives initially released images of his brother, 28-year-old Driss Oukabir, whose documents are believed to have been used to rent the van that killed 13 people.

However, latest reports suggest Driss handed himself into police on Thursday, saying his younger brother had stolen his ID to hire the vehicle.

Suspect: Driss Oukabir’s ID was used to rent the van but he has denied any involvement (Facebook)

Eighteen-year-old Moussa, who reportedly called for the killing of “infidels” in a social media post, remained at large on Friday morning.

Officials did not confirm whether Oukabir, 18, was the third person arrested.

“A third person has been detained in Ripoll in relation to the attacks,” local Catalan police confirmed on Twitter.

It came as a friend of Moussa, speaking to Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia anonymously, said she was “very surprised by all this” because Moussa was “a normal, nice boy”.

The pair studied together and she recalled him being a “a joker who was never nasty, a little quiet and who never had problems.

She added: “He had a group of friends, all Moroccans and he spoke perfect Catalan.

Crowds on Las Ramblas after Thursday’s attack (EPA)

“I think he arrived here when he was three years old.”

Families in the main tourist street Las Ramblas were left running for their lives as the Catalonia capital became the latest European city to fall victim terrorists.

Attack: 13 people were killed as the van mounted the pavement (AP)

Witnesses described how a white van mounted the pavement, swerving among pedestrians in a crowded area, in an “attack intended to kill as many people as possible”.

Two suspects, a Spanish national from Melilla and a Moroccan, were arrested and taken into custody on Thursday night.

Thousands of people on Las Ramblas during a mass silence in honour of victims after the terror attack

Thirteen people were killed in the attack – the deadliest on Spanish soil since the Madrid train attacks in 2004 – but officials warned the death toll may rise, with 15 more seriously injured. 

13 dead and more than 100 injured as van driver brings terror to Barcelona

The two suspects arrested on Thursday were detained in Ripoll and in Alcanar where, on Wednesday, an explosion thought to have been linked to the attack killed one person.

Authorities believe the explosion was caused by people testing devices in the lead up to a planned attack.

Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy described the horror as a “jihadist attack”, which so-called Islamic State said it had carried out.

Hours after the Barcelona atrocity, Spanish police shot and killed five suspected terrorists in the town of Cambrils.

The suspects were wearing explosive belts and were linked to the first attack in Barcelona.


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