Spain attacks: king joins public at mass for victims in Barcelona

Spain attacksMass at Sagrada Familia for the victims of Barcelona terror attack. Photograph: Sergio Barrenechea / POOL/EPA

Spain attacks: king joins public at mass for victims in Barcelona

The Spanish king and prime minister were among those who attended a special mass on Sunday in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.

The service was heard in the Sagrada Família, the Gaudí-designed temple, and was open to the public. Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, and the mayors of Barcelona, Madrid and Cambrils also attended.

Police roadblocks have been set up in many parts of Catalonia as the hunt continues for Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, the only suspected member of the jihadist cell who has not been either detained or killed.

King Felipe (right) and Queen Letizia speak with the archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Joan Josep Omella, as they leave after a mass to commemorate victims of the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.
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 King Felipe (right) and Queen Letizia speak with the archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Joan Josep Omella, as they leave after a mass to commemorate victims of the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. Photograph: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

Police suspect that Abouyaaqoub was the driver of the van that killed 13 people and injured over 100 more on Las Ramblas in Barcelona on Thursday afternoon. His mother, Ghanno Gaanimi, has appealed to him to turn himself in.

Ten of the 14 people killed in the two attacks have been named while 53 of the injured are still in hospital, 13 of them in a critical condition.

Attention has also focused on Abdelbaki Es Satty, the imam of Ripoll, the small town in northern Catalonia that was home to most of the attackers. Police are trying to establish whether his DNA matches the human remains found after the cell’s bomb factory blew up on Wednesday in Alcanar, about 185 miles (300km) south of Ripoll. Police now say they have found the DNA of at least three different individuals at the site.

Es Satty, whom the police suspect of radicalising the young Ripoll jihadists, was jailed in Castellón in Valencia in 2010 for smuggling cannabis. He was released in 2014. It is reported that while in prison he met Rachid Aglif, who is serving 18 years for his part in the 2004 Madrid bomb attacks that left 192 dead and about 2,000 people wounded.

His name also appears in a report after five men were arrested south of Barcelona in Vilanova i la Geltrú on charges of recruiting young men to fight in Iraq.

Es Satty moved to Ripoll about two years ago and became the imam of the Annur Islamic community at one of the Pyrenean town’s two mosques. The man who shared his flat in Ripoll said that Es Satty left last Tuesday, saying he was going back to Morocco for a three-month holiday.

“I don’t know what’s happened, I don’t know how to feel, they’re my sons but look at the evil they’ve done,” said Hechami Gasi, father of Mohamed and Omar Hychami, two of the suspects shot dead in Cambrils in the early hours of Friday morning. “The imam must have put these ideas in their heads. They were good boys.”

The president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont (left) and the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, also attended the mass.
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 The president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont (left) and the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, also attended the mass. Photograph: Sergio Barrenechea/AFP/Getty Images

The Spanish government has maintained the level 4 terrorist alert that was in place before the attacks. If the highest level, 5, were invoked the army would likely to be called in to patrol the streets.

In Seville, anti-Islamic slogans have appeared on a building belonging to a Muslim foundation. In a mass heard in Valencia Cathedral, Antonio Cañizares, the archbishop of Valencia, warned against “rifts between religions”.

“There is no greater blasphemy than the murder of innocents,” he said. “Islamic jihadism knows nothing but hate, hate for God and for his most beloved creatures, human beings.”

Joaquim Forn, the Catalan interior minister, appeared to drag the sensitive question of independence into the tragedy on Saturday night when he said on Catalan television that among the dead “there are two Catalans and two Spaniards”. As things stand, Catalans are Spanish citizens, although Catalonia’s long-awaited referendum on independence is scheduled to be held on 1 October.

The Catalan government and Barcelona city council have jointly convened a march against terrorism in the city next Saturday._ The Guardian

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