LATEST: Police confirm shooting dead of Barcelona terror attack van driver

UPDATE 5.32pm Police have confirmed that the man shot dead in Spain is Barcelona attacker Younes Abouyaaqoub.

Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, was gunned down by officers and appeared to be wearing what looked like a suicide belt.

The Moroccan was cornered in Subirats, about 30 miles west of Barcelona, on Monday.

UPDATE 3.45pm Local media have said the dead man was Younes Abouyaaqoub, the 22-year-old Moroccan wanted for the Las Ramblas outrage.

Police hunting the van driver behind the Barcelona terror attack say they have shot dead a suspect wearing what appeared to be a suicide belt.

He was cornered in Subirats, about 30 miles west of Barcelona, on Monday.

UPDATE 3.45pmThe terrorist who drove the van into pedestrians in Barcelona has been arrested, according to local media reports.

Spanish media reported that Younes Abouyaaqoub, the 22-year-old Moroccan named as the chief suspect, was detained during the operation on Monday afternoon.

Police also confirmed that an operation was under way in Subirats, to the west of the city.

Spanish police say they have killed a person who appeared to be wearing an explosives belt in Subirats.

UPDATE 2.25pm

Younes Abouyaaqoub is believed to have made his getaway in the stolen car with the body of its dead owner, Pau Perez, still inside.

Police have "scientific evidence" showing Abouyaaqoub drove the speeding van in Las Ramblas and also stabbed to death Mr Perez on Thursday night, regional police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said on Monday.

He said the suspect walked through Barcelona for about 90 minutes after the van attack - through the famed La Boqueria market and nearly to Barcelona University - before hijacking the car.

Mr Perez was parking his car, a Ford Focus, in a lot between 6.10pm and 6.20pm.

Abouyaaqoub stabbed him before 6.32pm, put him in the car's rear seats and drove away, Mr Trapero said.

He said Mr Perez was already dead when Abouyaaqoub then rammed the car through a police checkpoint minutes later and police opened fire on his car.

The suspect ran over a police officer as the car evaded the checkpoint.

At around 7pm, police found the car and Mr Perez's body three kilometres away from the checkpoint, near Sant Just Desvern, a town west of Barcelona, but Abouyaaqoub was nowhere to be found.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais published images on Monday of what it says is Abouyaaqoub making a getaway on foot after the van attack.

The three images show a slim man wearing sunglasses walking through the La Boqueria market.

Abouyaaqoub escaped and has not returned to his home in Ripoll, said Trapero. The manhunt for him reaches well beyond Spain's borders.

Four other suspects have been arrested.

Regional authorities said 50 people are still in hospital from both attacks, nine of them in critical condition.

UPDATE 12.30: The death toll in the terror attacks in Barcelona and a coastal town south of the city has risen to 15, an official said.

Catalan interior minister Joaquim Forn gave the updated figure in a news conference.

He said the new victim is a man found stabbed in a car which is believed to have been used by one of the attackers to flee the scene.

The previous death toll was 14 - 13 people killed in a van attack on Barcelona's Las Ramblas promenade on Thursday, and one woman killed hours later in Cambrils.

UPDATE 8.30am: The suspect at the centre of a major manhunt by police investigating the terror attacks in Catalonia was the driver of the van that killed 13 people on Las Ramblas, Barcelona, an official has said.

Joaquim Forn, head of home affairs in Catalonia's regional government, told a radio station "everything indicates" Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan, was behind the wheel.

Abouyaaqoub, who has reportedly fled into France on foot, is believed to be the only surviving member of the 12-strong terror cell behind the attacks in Barcelona and the seaside town of Cambrils, which left 14 dead and around 130 injured.

Three of the group remain unaccounted for by police, but it is believed two of those were killed in an explosion on Wednesday at the house in Alcanar where the terror plot was hatched.

It comes as police reportedly probe claims the cell was radicalised by an imam with links to the Madrid train bombers and an area in Belgium known as a hotspot for Islamic State recruiting.

Younes Abouyaaqoub.

EARLIER: Police investigating the Spanish terror attacks are continuing to hunt for a key suspect amid reports he may have fled over the border into France.

Officials believe a 12-member cell was responsible for the vehicle attacks in Barcelona and the seaside town of Cambrils, which left 14 dead and around 130 injured.

Three of the group remain unaccounted for by police, but it is believed two of those were killed in an explosion on Wednesday at the house in Alcanar where the terror plot was hatched.

Police declined to confirm that Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan, was the terrorist who drove the van down Las Ramblas promenade on Thursday.

Spanish police official Josep Lluis Trapero is said to have told a press conference there is no specific information to indicate the missing suspect's whereabouts, but some reports suggest he may have crossed the border into France on foot.

All of the main suspects are believed to have lived in the north-eastern town of Ripoll.

On Sunday, the family of a seven-year-old boy killed in the Barcelona attack said they were blessed to have had him in their lives.

Julian Cadman, a dual British-Australian national, was separated from his mother on Las Ramblas during the massacre, prompting relatives to launch an online appeal for information.

Confirming his death, his family said: "As he was enjoying the sights of Barcelona with his mother, Julian was sadly taken from us.

"He was so energetic, funny and cheeky, always bringing a smile to our faces.

"We are so blessed to have had him in our lives and will remember his smiles and hold his memory dear to our hearts."

Officials believe the terror group behind the attacks were plotting much deadlier carnage using explosives favoured by Islamic State militants, the Associated Press has reported.

Three vehicles were rented using the credit card of Abouyaaqoub and police believe the cell wanted to load the vans with explosives for a big attack, but were forced to change their plans after the house in Alcanar blew up.

The group is said to have stored more than 100 gas tanks and explosive ingredients at the house.

Five members of the cell were shot dead, four are in custody and as many as two were killed in the explosion, an interior minister said.

A memorial tribute of flowers, messages and candles to the van attack victims is seen on the historic Las Ramblas promenade. Picture: AP

Some 34 nationalities were among those wounded in the attacks in Las Ramblas and Cambrils, which lies around 70 miles to the south west of Barcelona.

Victims of the atrocity in Barcelona have been identified as British/Australian, Italian, Portuguese, Belgian, Spanish, Spanish/Argentine, Canadian and American.

The victim of the second assault in Cambrils in the early hours of Friday - which brought the death toll to 14 - was identified as a Spanish woman.

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