A van drove into crowds of people at Barcelona’s popular Las Ramblas pedestrian area in what police are describing as a terrorist attack, reports the BBC. Officials have confirmed 13 dead and 130 injured following the attack, per the latest numbers reported. Four suspects have been arrested in conjunction with this attack. [These numbers have been updated as the story developed.]
[Warning: Video below shows the aftermath of a terrorist attack.]
The van drove into the tree-lined pedestrian street known as Las Ramblas, driving for blocks before coming to a halt near Plaça Boqueria, where the driver fled on foot. The motive behind the attack remains unknown, according to local police. Police are still searching for two people related to this attack, reports the CBC.
Tom Markwell, who was just arriving at Las Ramblas in a taxi and saw the van, told the BBC:
I heard a crowd screaming. It sounded like they were screaming for a movie star.
I saw the van. It had already been busted on the front. It was weaving left and right, trying to hit people as fast as possible. There were people lying on the ground.
Eyewitnesses say that the attack caused people to flee en masse for cover, running through nearby markets and other stores, as captured in the video below:
Kevin Kwast, who was eating at the nearby La Boqueria market, described the scene to the BBC:
A smaller crowd was running away from that scene to the north west. We got trapped between the crowds and the heavily-armed police running around the area.
It looked like two incidents were in progress on either side of La Boqueria as police were closing off Ramblas on the north west and south east sides around us.
The heavily armed police ran west past us from Ramblas through La Boqueria and Passatge dels Coloms.
Another wave of civilians fled east on Passatge dels Coloms toward Ramblas as police entered that area.
Police pushed us into a money transfer shop and we’ve been sheltering there for over an hour.
Catalonia police have confirmed one dead, with 32 injured in the attack, per the latest report from the BBC. Ten of the wounded suffered serious injuries. [These numbers have since been updated; see latest updates below.]
The vehicle used was a white van with blue writing which had been rented in the city, according to Spanish broadcaster RTVE.
UPDATE [2:22 p.m.]: Police have arrested one suspect related to these attacks, per the CBC.
Police also reiterated that only one person has been officially reported as dead, however, that is a provisional figure and they expect the death count to rise. Our report has been clarified above to reflect the official numbers given by police.
UPDATE [2:36 p.m.]: Officials have now confirmed 13 dead from this attack, and over 50 injured, according to the CBC.
UPDATE [2:48 p.m.]: Police released an image of Driss Oukabir, a man in his 20s who is a suspect related to this attack. Oukabir is of Moroccan descent. They did not specify whether Oukabir is the suspect they have in custody, however. [Oukabir’s brother later became the main suspect instead; see final update below.]
Police also confirmed that two vans were used in conjunction with the attack to the CBC, both of which have been found by police. One van included a Spanish passport for someone of Moroccan descent.
One van was used in the attack and another was used as a getaway van. Police believe Oukabir is the one who rented the van used in the attack.
Police are evacuating the area as they continue to search for the suspect.
UPDATE [3:02 p.m.]: Local media reports say a second suspect has been killed in a shootout with police in the outskirts of Barcelona, per the BBC. No official confirmation of this report has been given. [It is unclear whether this conflicts with a later report from Spanish officials. See update below.]
UPDATE [3:17 p.m.]: Catalonia’s regional president now confirms that two have been arrested in conjunction with this attack, reports the Associated Press. No confirmation was given of the earlier Spanish media report of a shootout.
Additionally, 80 have been confirmed as injured in the attack, per the latest numbers given by the CBC. These items have been updated above.
UPDATE [3:40 p.m.]: ISIS has taken responsibility for this attack, per the BBC:
So-called Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the Barcelona attack, saying it was carried out by “Islamic State soldiers”.The claim has been made by the IS-linked news agency Amaq. The group gave no evidence or further details to back this claim.
However, it is worth noting that ISIS tends to take responsibility for attacks regardless of whether they were directly involved or not.
At least 15 of the 80 injured are in serious condition, per the CBC.
Additionally, the CBC just reported that Catalan police have confirmed that one was killed in a shootout with police on the outskirts of Barcelona, as was reported earlier by Spanish media sources. However, it remains unclear whether this shootout was related to the van attack on Las Ramblas.
Police also reported that a driver hit two policemen at a Barcelona checkpoint earlier today, however, it remains unclear whether that was related to this attack on Las Ramblas. That driver was found later and is now in police custody, per the AP.
UPDATE [3:58 p.m.]: An information line has been set up for relatives of those who could be affected:
Furthermore, the official number of dead has been revised again. President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont confirmed only 12 dead at a news conference held Thursday evening about the attack, reports the AP—not 13 as Catalonia’s interior minister reported earlier in a tweet. We have revised this figure above.
The CBC noted that there is some confusion even among official reports given the size and multiple-agency scope of the investigation at the moment. They have now revised their reporting to note “at least 12 dead.”
UPDATE [4:39 p.m.]: CBC is now reporting 13 dead per local authorities; this number has been updated above.
UPDATE [8/18/17]: Spanish emergency services have revised the number of those injured to 130, per the BBC. A total of four men were arrested related to the attack.
Suspect Driss Oukabir, who was believed to have rented the van used in the attack, turned himself into police, alleging that his documents were stolen, possibly by his brother Moussa Oukabir. Driss turned himself in after seeing his face on the media. Moussa Oukabir then became a key suspect for the Barcelona terror attack.
A similar van attack happened Thursday night in the coastal town of Cambrils, southwest of Barcelona, killing one, and injuring six civilians and one police officer, reports the BBC. Attackers attempted to drive a van into a waterfront pedestrian area popular with tourists, but the van overturned in the process.
Five suspects including Moussa Oukabir were shot dead by police after the attack, one of whom was on foot attempting to stab people. The terrorists behind the attack were wearing fake explosive suicide belts, Puigdemont told the BBC.
[Warning: Video depicts the aftermath of a terrorist attack.]
An explosion late Wednesday night in the town of Alcanar was also linked to the terror attacks in Cambrils and Barcelona, per police chief Josep Lluís Trapero. The BBC writes:
Police suspect the house destroyed in a blast on Wednesday was being used to build an explosive device.
Police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said it appeared the people in the house were “preparing an explosive device”.
“It seems there was an accumulation of gas that generated the explosion,” he added.
The explosion appears to have happened in the process of building an explosive device. It destroyed a house there, killing one person and injuring seven. It is believed that a larger attack was planned.