In the aftermath of the attack in Barcelona on Friday, Spanish police say they are piecing together the original plot planned by jihadist terrorists which devolved into the chaos that unfolded in Barcelona and nearby towns.
Police now believe that the terror cell originally planned to deploy a series of massive car bombs, but altered the operation following an explosion at a house in the town of Alcanar.
Police have reportedly found over 120 gas containers in the house where the explosion occurred, and now believe the terrorists were using them to construct car bombs.
“We’re starting to see clearly that (the Alcanar house) was the place where they were preparing explosives for one or more attacks in the city of Barcelona,” said Josep Lluis Trapero, the regional police chief for Catalonia.”
After the house being used to construct the bombs was leveled in the accidental explosion, killing two as of yet unidentified people who are believed to be part of the terror cell, the operation shifted to a now-familiar vehicular assault in Barcelona and Cambrils.
The attack in Barcelona, where a rented van drove through a densely packed urban area and killed 13 people while wounding over 50 others, was conducted by a suspect who remains at large. After driving some 550 meters through a pedestrian area, weaving at high-speed in an attempt to hit as many people as possible, the driver abandoned the vehicle and ran away.
It is believed he then hijacked another vehicle, murdering the driver to do so.
A manhunt is now underway across northeastern Spain to find the suspected driver.
Many hours after the Barcelona attack, a vehicle loaded with five individuals wearing fake suicide vests was also driven into a crowd. After the car overturned, the occupants left the vehicle and began attacking civilians with knives, killing one woman in the process. A police officer shot and killed four of the suspects on the scene, with the fifth later dying of his wounds.
The use of vehicles as a go-to tactic in terror attacks is growing, with the incident in Barcelona a troubling reminder of how an attack using only easily acquirable vehicles can produce considerable casualties with relative ease. No training, special equipment, or even communication is required to coordinate such an attack, and unless law enforcement happen to be present as the attack is underway, such as in Cambrils, civilians alone are responsible for their own protection.
Image courtesy Wikipedia