Barcelona van attackers planned to bomb churches or monuments

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MADRID An Islamist militant cell that last week used a van to kill 13 people in Barcelona had planned one or more major bomb attacks, possibly against churches or monuments, one suspect told a court on Tuesday, according to sources close to the investigation.

They said the group was led by an imam who tutored its members, mainly young Moroccans, in jihad and told them "martyrdom is a good thing, according to the Quran," Mohamed Houli Chemlal, 21, told a Spanish High Court judge.

After a day-long hearing of four suspects in the plot, Judge Fernando Andreu ordered Chemlal and a second defendant, Driss Oukabir, 28, remanded on charges of membership of a terrorist group and murder.

Chemlal was also charged with explosives possession.

A third suspect, Salh El Karib, 34, who ran an Internet cafe in the town of Ripoll, where most of the alleged members of the cell lived, will remain in police custody for now pending further investigation. The fourth man, Mohamed Aalla, 27, was released on certain conditions.

Chemlal was the only one who admitted a role in the plot. The other three all denied involvement. - REUTERS