Barcelona attack: van crashes into crowd at Las Ramblas, killing 13 as ISIS claims responsibility

Barney Henderson, James Rothwell and Hannah Strange  — Telegraph.co.uk Aug 17, 2017

A white van crashed into a packed summer crowd this evening in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district. Barcelona police confirmed it was a terror attack. Officials said 13 people were killed and more than 100 injured.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. The terror group has frequently declared that it was behind terrorist incidents in recent years, but experts have warned their claims should be treated with caution.

The driver was arrested around two and a half hours after the attack, police said. A second suspect was also arrested.

Police shot dead a third man who drove at officers at a checkpoint. It was not clear whether he was connected to the Las Ramblas attack.

One of the arrested men was named as Driss Oukabir. He is suspected of renting the van, but later denied involvement and reportedly said his documents had been stolen.

The afternoon attack in the northeastern Spanish city was the country’s deadliest since 2004 when al-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 192 people in coordinated attacks on Madrid’s commuter trains.

It left victims sprawled out in the street, spattered with blood or crippled by broken limbs. Others fled in panic, screaming or carrying young children in their arms. As witnesses and emergency workers tried to help the wounded, police brandishing hand guns launched a search of side streets looking for suspects.

State-owned broadcaster RTVE reported that investigators think two vans were used – one for the attack and a second as a getaway vehicle.

Las Ramblas, a street of stalls and shops that cuts through the center of Barcelona, is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. People walk down a wide, pedestrian path in the center of the street while cars can travel on either side.

The Spanish royal household said on Twitter: “They are murderers, nothing more than criminals who are not going to terrorise us. All of Spain is Barcelona. Las Ramblas will go back to being everyone’s.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said: “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help.”

He added: “Be tough & strong, we love you!”

Carol Augustin, a manager at La Palau Moja, an 18th-century place on Las Ramblas that houses government offices and a tourist information center, said the van passed right in front of the building.

“We saw everything. People started screaming and running into the office. It was such a chaotic situation. There were families with children. The police made us close the doors and wait inside,” she said.

While full details of the incident were 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.

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