The terrorist cell responsible for the vehicle attack in Barcelona that killed 13, including one American, on Thursday originally intended to target the city's iconic Sagrada Familia cathedral, Spain's El Español reported Saturday, citing police sources. The church was reportedly chosen for its religious symbolism as well as its busy flow of tourists, but the plan was ultimately abandoned after the terrorists apparently mishandled their own explosives stockpile.
The cathedral instead became the site for a memorial service for the victims' families Sunday.
Authorities believe the terror cell had 12 members and collected 120 gas cannisters to use in vehicle attacks. Five cell members were fatally shot by police; four were arrested; and three — including Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, believed to be the driver in the Barcelona attack — remain at large.
The manhunt for the final suspects continued Sunday, though two sets of unidentified remains could account for two of the three missing men. The remains are from an explosion at a house in Alcanar, Spain, on Wednesday, the incident thought to have canceled the cathedral plan. Abouyaaqoub fled the scene of the Barcelona attack on foot and may have crossed the border into France.