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Terror attack in Barcelona kills 13: What we know so far

world Updated: Aug 18, 2017 10:54 IST
Barcelona,Barcelona terror attack,Islamic State

Armed Catalonian Mosses de Escuadra officers leave the area where a van crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona.(REUTERS)

A van mowed through crowds of tourists on Barcelona’s most famous avenue on Thursday, killing about a dozen people in a ‘terror attack’. A Catalan government official said the death toll could rise above the 13 so far confirmed.

What happened?

Around 4.50 pm (1450 GMT), a vehicle slammed into a crowd of pedestrians on the famous Las Ramblas boulevard.

The promenade in the heart of the city centre is one of Barcelona’s busiest streets, normally thronged with tourists and street performers until well into the night.

Witnesses described scenes of chaos and panic, with bodies strewn along the boulevard as others fled for their lives.

Tom Gueller, who lives on a road next to Las Ramblas said he saw the van speeding along the boulevard.

“It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds in the middle of the Ramblas,” he told BBC radio, referring to the pedestrianised area.

Further attacks

Six civilians and one police officer were hurt when a car drove into people in the Spanish seaside resort of Cambrils early Friday, the regional government said, just hours after a similar deadly attack in nearby Barcelona.

Spanish police said they had shot dead “four suspected terrorists” and left another injured early on Friday in Cambrils. Police said that they are investigating whether the Cambrils suspects were wearing explosive vests. Its officers planned to carry out several controlled explosions.

In another incident, an explosion killed one person in a house in Catalonia. Police sources said that the residents were preparing explosives using gas cyclinders.

The van which ploughed into the crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring around 100 others, is towed away from the Rambla in Barcelona. (AFP Photo)

Who are the victims?

Regional interior minister Joaquim Forn said at least 13 people had died and around 100 more were injured in the attack.

Belgium’s foreign minister Didier Reynders said on Twitter a Belgian national was among those killed in Barcelona. He told Belgian media the victim was a woman.

The injured included three Dutch nationals and three Greek citizens.

There is no report of any Indian casualty yet, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said who is in constant touch with Indian embassy in Spain.

Who is behind it?

The Islamic State’s propaganda agency Amaq claimed that “soldiers” from the jihadist group carried out the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group which monitors Islamist websites.

“The executors of the Barcelona attack were soldiers of the Islamic State,” the Amaq outlet said, quoted by SITE.

Police in the Spanish region of Catalonia where Barcelona is located said they have arrested two men, a Spaniard and a Moroccan, but the driver of the van is still on the run.

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and other news outlets named one of the detained as Driss Oukabir, a French citizen of Moroccan origin.

Separately, police said they suspected a house explosion late Wednesday at a house in Alcanar some 200 kilometres (124 miles) south of Barcelona was linked to the van attack. At least one person died in the house where police suspect they were “preparing an explosive device”.

How did authorities respond?

Emergency services quickly arrived on the scene and cordoned off the area, with several ambulances and police vehicles responding.

The city also closed down metro stations in the area, with authorities telling people to stay away from the area.

Police appealed to people to stay in their homes and avoid unnecessary trips.

The police force for Spain’s Catalonia region says its troopers shot and killed four suspects and wounded a fifth in a resort town south of Barcelona to ‘respond to a terrorist attack.’

The confrontation came about eight hours after a van attack in Barcelona.

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 08:58 IST