BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — French police are carrying out extra border checks on people arriving from Spain as authorities search for a fugitive suspect in the Barcelona attacks.
No arrests had been made by Saturday morning, according to a French security official, who described the checks along the normally open border as routine whenever neighboring countries signal a potential risk.
Another French security official said Spanish authorities flagged a Kangoo utility vehicle believed to have been rented in Spain by a suspect in Thursday’s attacks and that may have crossed the nearby border into France.
Both officials were not authorized to be publicly named.
At multiple border posts in the winding roads crossing the western Pyrenees on Saturday, gendarmes stopped certain vehicles to check drivers’ IDs and the contents of their cars. They targeted primarily vans, trucks and utility vehicles.
Catalan police say they are carrying out controlled explosions in the town where an extremist cell plotted the attacks in Barcelona and a seaside resort.
In a tweet Saturday, police urged residents of Alcanar not to be alarmed by the detonations in the town, where they believe the extremists rented a house used to prepare their attacks.
The house was destroyed by an apparently accidental explosion on Wednesday. Police believe the blast actually prevented a far more deadlier attack using explosives, forcing the extremists to use more “rudimentary” vehicles instead.
Representatives from the Spanish and Catalan government are meeting to determine the terrorist threat level for the country and its Catalan region, after Barcelona and the southern resort town of Cambrils were hit with terrorist attacks.
Following the Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning attacks that killed 14 people and wounded more than a hundred, Spain’s threat level is now four on a scale that goes to five, a ranking that would warrant military deployments.
Authorities say the attacks were the work of a large terrorist cell that had been plotting for a long time from a house in Alcanar, 200 kilometers (124 miles) down the coast from Barcelona.
Senior police official Josep Lluis Trapero says Saturday that an apparently accidental butane gas explosion at the house, which killed one person, likely prevented the suspects from carrying out a far deadlier attack.