BARCELONA (CBSNEWS/AP) – Police fatally shot five people wearing fake bomb belts who staged a car attack in a seaside resort in Spain’s Catalonia region on Friday, just hours after a van plowed into pedestrians on a busy Barcelona promenade, killing at least 14 people and injuring more than 100 others.
Authorities said the back-to-back vehicle attacks — as well as an explosion earlier this week elsewhere in Catalonia — were connected and the work of a large terrorist group. Three people were arrested, but the driver of the van used in the Barcelona attack remained at large and the manhunt intensified for the perpetrators of the latest European rampage claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The Reuters news agency reports, citing an unnamed judicial source, authorities investigating both attacks believe there may have been a cell of eight people involved, and that the group planned to use butane gas canisters.
Authorities were still reeling from Thursday’s Barcelona attack when police in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, about 130 kilometers and nearly 80 miles, to the south, fatally shot five people near the town’s boardwalk who had plowed into a group of tourists and locals with their blue Audi 3. Six people, including a police officer, were injured, though it wasn’t clear how badly.
Catalonia’s interior minister, Joaquim Forn, told Onda Cero radio that the five suspects killed in a subsequent shootout with police were wearing fake bomb belts.
“They were fakes, but very well made, and it wasn’t until the bomb squad carried out the controlled explosion of one that they could determine they were fakes,” he said.
The Audi and a damaged police car were towed from the scene Friday.
The Cambrils attack came hours after a white van veered onto Barcelona’s picturesque Las Ramblas promenade and mowed down pedestrians, zig-zagging down the strip packed with locals and tourists from around the world.