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Barcelona van attack kills 13: Ten cases where vehicles turned terror weapons

On Thursday, a van mowed down pedestrians in central Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring around 100 others in what authorities called a terrorist attack.

world Updated: Aug 18, 2017 12:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sushma Swaraj‬,‪Spain‬,‪Barcelona‬
The suspected van is towed away from the area where it crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain.(Reuters)

Turning a vehicle into a weapon of terror is a tactic well known to intelligence agencies, with the Islamic State and al Qaeda calling on jihadis around the world to carry out such attacks on Americans and Europeans.

On Thursday, a van mowed down pedestrians in central Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring around 100 others in what authorities called a terrorist attack.

Security establishments around the world have had to deal with several similar attacks in the recent years.

In September 2014, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, an Islamic State spokesman issued chilling instructions. “If you cannot (detonate) a bomb or (fire) a bullet, arrange to meet alone with a French or an American infidel and bash his skull in with a rock, slaughter him with a knife, run him over with your car, throw him off a cliff, strangle him, or inject him with poison,” he said.

Al-Adnani said there was no need to “consult anyone” as all unbelievers are fair game: “It is immaterial if the infidel is a combatant or a civilian... They are both enemies. The blood of both is permitted.”

Here is a list (in chronological order) of terrorist attacks that were carried out with vehicles as the primary weapons:

1. June 2007: Two men in a burning jeep loaded with propane canisters smashed into the main terminal building at Scotland’s Glasgow Airport. One of the attackers, who was born in India, died and the other was jailed for life, with the judge describing him as a “religious extremist”.

2. October 2013: Three attackers and two tourists were killed when a group of men drove a SUV into a crowd at Tiananmen Square, described as the first major suicide attack in Beijing. The attack was claimed by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

3. May 2013: Two Islamic militants of Nigerian descent rammed their car into British soldier Lee Rigby before trying to behead him on a London street. They said they carried out the attack to avenge the deaths of Muslims at the hands of British troops.

4. October 2014: Muslim convert Martin Couture-Rouleau, 25, used his car to run down two Canadian soldiers in Quebec. One soldier died and the attacker was shot dead after a chase. Couture-Rouleau called a police emergency line to dedicate his attack to the cause of jihad.

5. July 2016: A truck smashed into revellers celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice, killing 86 and injuring scores more. The attacker was shot dead by police, and the Islamic State claimed responsibility.

6. December 2016: A man hijacked a truck and ploughed into shoppers at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people. The attacker was shot dead by police in Milan four days later, and the rampage was claimed by the Islamic State.

7. March 22, 2017: Five people died exactly a year after the Brussels attacks, when a man rammed his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London and then fatally stabbed a police officer outside parliament. The attacker was shot dead by police.

8. April 7, 2017: A truck ploughed into shoppers outside a busy department store in central Stockholm, killing five people including an 11-year-old girl. Police say an Uzbek suspect who was denied a residency permit in 2016 confessed.

9. June 2017: A van rammed into a crowd on London Bridge, then the three assailants left the vehicle armed with knives and attacked people. Eight people were killed and around 50 wounded. Police shot dead the attackers. IS claimed responsibility.

10. June 2017: One person died and around a dozen were injured when a van was driven into a crowd of Muslim worshippers in north London’s Finsbury Park. The incident was declared a terrorist attack.

With inputs from AFP

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 12:04 IST