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Spain ‘suspects planned bigger attack’

Policemen stand next to an injured person lying on the pavement in the Finnish city of Turku where eight people were stabbed on Friday. (AFP)
BARCELONA: Suspects in Spain’s twin terror attacks had been planning for an even bigger assault than the deadly car rampages they carried out, police said on Friday, as distressing details emerged of families torn apart by the double tragedy.
As the world was coming to terms with the Barcelona horror, reports of stabbing attacks came from Finland and Germany on Friday.
In Barcelona, a 35-year-old Italian man was among 14 killed in the attacks, mowed down in front of his wife and young children Thursday when a driver rammed his van through crowds on the busy Las Ramblas boulevard, before fleeing on foot.
Police said they shot dead five “suspected terrorists” who had knocked pedestrians down in the Catalan seaside resort of Cambrils in a second attack in the early hours of Friday and arrested four others.
Details of the investigation were still sketchy, but police said the Barcelona suspect driver may have been among the five killed.
And according to the daily La Vanguardia newspaper in Barcelona, officers were still on the hunt for four other suspects thought to be involved with the cell that devised the terror project claimed by Daesh.
Police revealed Friday afternoon that the suspects had apparently been planning something bigger.
“They were preparing one or several attacks in Barcelona, and an explosion in Alcanar stopped this as they no longer had the material they needed to commit attacks of an even bigger scope,” said Josep Lluis Trapero of Catalonia’s police.
He was referring to a blast in a house in the town of Alcanar Wednesday evening, which police said killed one person.
Meanwhile, in the western Finnish city of Turku, a man stabbed eight people killing two of them, before police shot him in the thigh and detained him, police said. Authorities were looking for more potential suspects in the attack.
A suspect — a man whose identity was not known — was being treated in the city’s main hospital but was in police custody. Security was being stepped up across the Nordic country, Interior Minister Paula Risikko told reporters at a news conference.
Finland’s top police chief, Seppo Kolehmainen, said it was too early to link the attack to international terrorism.
Separately, police in western Germany were searching for up to three men who ran away after stabbing one person to death and injuring another.
A spokeswoman for police in Wuppertal, about 20 km east of Duesseldorf, said the incident happened at a store near the city center.
Marion Heedmann said a 31-year-old man was killed and a 25-year-old man was injured in the incident.
Heedmann said the circumstances of the stabbing were still unclear. Local broadcaster WDR reported that a verbal altercation preceded the incident.