Posted by News Express | 18 August 2017 | 1,305 times
At least 13 people have died and 50 were injured after a van ploughed into crowds in Barcelona’s famous Las Ramblas tourist area, police and local officials say.
The vehicle sped along the pedestrian area, mowing down people and sending others fleeing for cover. Police are treating the incident as terrorism.
Later they said a man had been arrested in connection with the attack.
Witnesses said the van had deliberately targeted people before stopping.
Spanish media reports said the driver of the vehicle – a white Fiat that had been rented in the city – had fled on foot.
But police denied earlier reports of two suspected attackers being holed up in a bar in the city centre.
Local authorities in the small town of Vic in Catalonia say police have cordoned off the area and are inspecting another van amid suggestions it may have been used as a getaway vehicle.
The attack happened at the height of the season in one of Europe’s top tourist destinations.
Vehicles have been used to ram into crowds in a series of attacks across Europe since July last year.
Tom Markwell from New Orleans, who was just arriving in a taxi in Las Ramblas, said: “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.”
Media caption footage captures people using a shop as an escape route on Las Ramblas
Aamer Anwar said he was walking down Las Ramblas, which was “jam-packed” with tourists.
“All of a sudden, I just sort of heard a crashing noise and the whole street just started to run, screaming. I saw a woman right next to me screaming for her kids,” he told Sky News.
“Police were very, very quickly there, police officers with guns, batons, everywhere. Then the whole street started getting pushed back.
“Police officers who got there just started screaming at people to move back, move back.”
Kevin Kwast, who is on holiday in Barcelona with his family, said: “I was eating with my family in La Boqueria market very near where the crash occurred.
“Hundreds of people started stampeding through the market... we started running with them going outside right into where casualties were already on the ground.
“Police pushed us into a money transfer shop and we’ve been sheltering there for over an hour.”
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was in contact with authorities, and the priority was to attend to the injured.
The United States has offered its assistance to Spain.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said consular assistance was being provided to Americans in the city, and urged US nationals to check in with their families.
“Terrorists around the world should know the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice,” he told reporters.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts were with the victims, adding that “the UK stands with Spain against terror.” (BBC)
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