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>> Spanish regional police might have missed an opportunity to uncover a militant plot ahead of the Barcelona attack. The allegations have come from two unnamed police sources and two individuals close to the investigation. The errors mostly center around a major blast on the 16th of August, the eve of the attack.
It tore through a house 200 kilometers southwest of Barcelona, where suspected Islamist militants were making explosives. For several hours, Catalan police did not link the explosion to militancy, and so no public alarm was raised. They first suspected a gas leak or drugs laboratory was to blame. It took 10 hours to send bomb experts to the scene.
And Catalan police also did not promptly pass information on the blast to the national police and to Madrid Civil Guard, viewed as Spain's most experienced anti-terrorism force. One terrorism expert said a bomb squad would have quickly detected signs of Islamic State signature explosive, TATP, in the building. Police believe that after the accidental explosion, the terrorist cell then decided on a less elaborate attack than the one they were apparently planning.
Just hours later, an accomplice drove a van into crowds in Barcelona's Las Ramblas, killing 13 people. Some terrorism experts have speculated that if the Catalan police had discovered the presence of militants in the house more quickly, officers might have had time to raise the alarm. All of the known suspects are now dead or arrested.
Catalan police have defended their actions and despite the criticism the country's police have praised their regional colleagues.