UPDATE: ISIS takes responsibility for Barcelona terror attack

13 died and dozens were injured when a van plowed into a crowd

UPDATE: 2:45 p.m. Thursday

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the van attack in Barcelona that officials say killed 13 people and injured many others.

A statement carried by the extremist group’s media arm — the Aamaq news agency — says Thursday’s attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State.”

It says the attack was in response to IS calls for its followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive the extremist group from Syria and Iraq.

The statement provided no further details about the attackers.

UPDATE: 2 p.m. Thursday

The government in Spain’s Catalonia region has revised the death toll from the van attack in Barcelona back up to 13.

The regional interior department said late Thursday that 15 people were seriously injured in the attack at the central Las Ramblas district.

Another 23 were moderately wounded and 42 people were lightly wounded.

The injured are being cared for at various hospitals.

Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, tells Barcelona broadcaster TV3: “Our priority is to save lives. And our second priority is the police investigation, to find the people responsible of this attack and anyone who has helped them directly or indirectly.”

The Associated Press

A white van jumped up onto a sidewalk and sped down a pedestrian zone in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district Thursday, swerving from side to side as it plowed into tourists and residents. Calling it a terror attack, police said at least one person was killed and 32 were wounded, many seriously.

The attack left dozens of people sprawled out on the ground in the city in northeastern Spain, some spattered with blood and others coping with broken limbs. As witnesses and emergency workers tried to help the wounded, police brandishing hand guns launched a search of side streets amid reports that at least one perpetrator and maybe more were holed up in a nearby bar.

A few hours later, Spanish public broadcaster RTVE announced that one suspect in the Barcelona van attack had been arrested. Authorities provided no immediate information on the person or on who might be behind the attack.

“We can only confirm one death and 32 injured, some seriously, so unfortunately the number of fatalities will likely rise,” Joaquim Forn, the regional interior chief who is in charge of the police, told reporters Thursday evening.

Local media reported up to 13 dead. They did not name their sources.

Police immediately cordoned off the city’s broad Las Rambles avenue, which is popular with tourists, and ordered stores and nearby Metro and train stations to close. They asked people to stay away from the area so as not to get in the way of emergency services. A helicopter hovered over the scene.

Quoting unnamed police sources, the El Pais newspaper said the two perpetrators of the crash were holed up in a bar in Tallers Street. Armed police ran down adjacent streets and through a market, checking into stores and cafes, presumably in search of them.

Las Ramblas, a street of stalls and shops that cuts through the centre of Barcelona, is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. People walk down a wide, pedestrian path in the centre of the street but cars can travel on either side. A taxi driver who witnessed the attack, Oscar Cano, told TV3 the van jumped onto the central pedestrian area at a high speed and swerved from side to side.

In photographs and videos, at least five people could be seen lying on the ground in the street Thursday afternoon, being helped by police and others. Other video recorded people screaming as they fled the van.

Keith Fleming, an American who lives in Barcelona, was watching TV in his building just off Las Ramblas when he heard a noise and went out to his balcony.

“I saw women and children just running and they looked terrified,” he said.

He said there was a bang — possibly from someone rolling down a store shutter — and more people ran by. Then police arrived and pushed everyone a full block away. Even people leaning out of doors were being told to go back inside, he said.

Fleming said regular police had their guns drawn and riot police were at the end of his block, which was soon deserted.

“It’s just kind of a tense situation,” Fleming said. “Clearly, people were scared.”

Carol Augustin, a manager at La Palau Moja, an 18th-century place on Las Ramblas that houses government offices and a tourism information centre, 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.

Spain has been on a security alert one step below the maximum since June 2015 following attacks elsewhere in Europe and Africa. Spanish police have also been involved in the arrests of more than 200 suspected jihadis since then.

Cars, trucks and vans have been the weapon of choice in multiple extremist attacks in Europe in the last year.

The most deadly was the driver of a tractor-trailer who targeted Bastille Day revelers in the southern French city of Nice in July 2016, killing 86 people. In December 2016, 12 people died after a driver used a hijacked trick to drive into a Christmas market in Berlin.

There have been multiple attacks this year in London, where a man in a rented SUV plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four people before he ran onto the grounds of Parliament and stabbed an unarmed police officer to death in March.

Four other men drove onto the sidewalk of London Bridge, unleashing a rampage with knives that killed eight people in June. Another man also drove into pedestrians leaving a London mosque later in June.

___

Hatton reported from Lisbon. Ciaran Giles in Madrid also contributed.

Barry Hatton And Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press

 

Just Posted

‘My friends aren’t going to sell me stuff to hurt me’: South Surrey overdose victim

SPECIAL REPORT: First in a two-part series on Peninsula families losing a loved one to fentanyl

Meyer makes White Rock mayoral run official

Three-term councillor says other coalition incumbents to seek return as councillors

‘Glam & Glitter’ ball, festival and more at Surrey Pride celebrations

Portland’s Caravan of Glam among performers from June 26 to 30

VIDEO: One-man protest against bank enters fourth week in Langley

Owner of hemp novelty store chain says he was turned down because of anti-marijuana attitude

Alleged shoplifting incident no longer of public interest, Crown finds

BC Prosecution Service explains legal process after South Surrey sting operation

In reversal, Trump signs executive order to stop family separation

President had been wrongly insisting he had no choice but to separate families apprehended at border

50 new fires sparked in B.C. after lightning strikes across province

Similar conditions seen at the beginning of 2017 wildfire season

B.C. woman graduates high school at age 92

Nanaimo’s Joan Deebank the oldest high school graduate ever in B.C., as far as ministry can confirm

B.C. Appeal Court rules lottery winner must be paid back $600,000 loan

Enone Rosas won $4.1 million in a lottery in 2007 and loaned a portion to a friend

Chilliwack city councillor’s expenses the subject of FOI request by mayor

Discussion about council expenses leads to broader call for more transparency and accountability

VIDEO: Pedestrian struck and killed by train in downtown Abbotsford

Person hit at West Railway and Gladys Avenue late Tuesday night

B.C. man surprised after used needle falls from sky

A Vernon resident said a syringe fell out of the sky and landed at his feet

Liquor review finds issues with B.C. wholesale monopoly

Report calls for ‘conflict of interest’ in system to be fixed

School district plans to keep a list of unvaccinated children

New policy in Langley doesn’t require vaccinations but tracks children who don’t get immunized

Most Read

l -->