Terrorist Strike in Barcelona, Death Count Rises
A driver of a van deliberately crashed into a crowd of people in the center of Barcelona Thursday, killing as many as 13 and injuring at least 32, according to police and media reports in the Spanish city.
The death toll in the terrorist attack was reported by Cadena Ser radio, citing police sources.
“Unfortunately the number of fatalities will likely rise,” an official said in a news conference
Police are searching for the driver of the van.
The newspaper El Pais, citing police sources, said the 2 perpetrators of the crash were baracaded in a Turkish bar in the City Center, Placa Catalunya
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was in contact with authorities, and the priority was to attend to the injured.
A source familiar with the initial US government assessment concurred in believing the incident appeared to be terrorism, and a White House spokeswoman said President Donald Trump was being kept abreast of the situation.
The incident took place at the height of the tourist season in Barcelona, which is one of Europe’s top travel destinations with at least 11-M visitors a year.
Media reports said the van zigzagged at speed down the famous Las Ramblas Avenue.
“I heard screams and a bit of a crash and then I just saw the crowd parting and this van going full pelt down the middle of the Ramblas and I immediately knew that it was a terrorist attack or something like that,” eyewitness Tom Gueller told reporters.
“It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds in the middle of the Ramblas.”
“We saw a white van collide with people. We saw people going flying because of the collision, we also saw three cyclists go flying,” Ellen Vercamm, on holiday in Barcelona, told El Pais newspaper.
El Pais said the driver of the vehicle fled on foot.
Las Ramblas is a street of stalls and shops that cuts through the center of Barcelona, it is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. People walk down a wide, pedestrianized path in the center of the street, but cars can travel on either side.
While full details of the incident are not immediately clear, since July 2016 vehicles have been used to ram into crowds in a series of militant attacks across Europe, killing well over 100 people in Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in which a van ploughed into crowds in the Spanish city of Barcelona Thursday, the group’s Amaq news agency said.
“The perpetrators of the Barcelona attack are soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting coalition states,” the agency said, referring to a United States-led coalition against the Sunni militant group.