Who Is Driss Oukabir? Barcelona Van Attack Suspect Hunted by Police

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A police officer stands by a cordoned-off street after a van drove into pedestrians in the Las Ramblas district of central Barcelona, Spain, on August 17. REUTERS/Stringer

Updated | Driss Oukabir, whose name and image were sent around by Spanish police after being named as a possible suspect in Thursday’s van assault in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district, reportedly came to police shortly after the incident claiming that his identification had been stolen and that he was not part of the attack, according to Spanish media.

In the town of Ripoll, where he lives, Oukabir went to the police station of the Mossos d’Esquadra to explain the situation to officers after he saw his picture spread across media outlets and said he was in the town at the time of the attack, according to the La Vanguardia and El Nacional newspapers. Ripoll is located some 65 miles north of Barcelona and near where the van was rented.

Oukabir, 28, said that his ID has been stolen, and while police are questioning why he had not reported the theft before, they suspect that his brother may have taken the documents in order to rent the van used in the attack. Initial reports had Oukabir as a police suspect because the van had been rented in his name in the nearby town of Santa Perpètua de Mogoda.

The name of Oukabir’s brother has not been released or reported.

Oukabir is reportedly a Moroccan citizen who was born in the town of Aghbala but is also a legal resident of Spain, police told the El Pais newspaper. He also had spent time in a jail in Figueres and was released in 2012.

Oukabir, 28, arrived in Barcelona from Morocco Sunday.

The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has since taken credit for the attack, which killed at least 13 people and injured 80 others. Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, announced that two arrests had been made following the attack and updated the number of dead and injured. He also said a minute of silence ceremony would take place Friday as a symbol of unity following the attack.

ISIS confirmed it had carried out the attack through its Amaq News Agency.

Initial reports surfaced Thursday that ISIS, well known for conducting attacks outside its strongholds in Iraq and Syria with satellite members, had started to praise the attack online. It has been responsible for recent attacks around Europe, such as the Manchester concert bombing in Britain earlier this year and the Nice truck attack in France last year.

Eyewitness accounts indicated that the van’s driver had attempted to run people down as they were crossing the street in the very busy and tourist-heavy area of one of Spain’s most famous and populous cities.

Photos of the attack site quickly flooded social media, showing victims lying on the sidewalks and police and emergency responders helping them. Smoke and debris were also seen around the van used in the attack.

Areas around the city were reportedly evacuated, and public transportation in the heart of the city was closed down.

This story has been updated to include more information about Oukabir and the number of people killed.