Van hits crowds on Las Ramblas in Barcelona in terror attack
PUBLISHED: 22:16 17 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:32 18 August 2017
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
At least 13 people have died and more than 100 have been injured after a van ploughed into pedestrians in a terror attack in a busy tourist area of Barcelona.
Police have made two arrests after a white Fiat van tore through the Las Ramblas district which was packed with shoppers and holidaymakers.
Shortly after 5pm local time the vehicle careered into terrified pedestrians in the busy tree-lined promenade, one of the most popular parts of the city.
Local media said police were hunting a man named Driss Oukabir who is suspected of having rented the van used in the attack. It is unclear if he is one of the two people arrested. The passport of a Spanish citizen, of Moroccan origin, was found at the scene.
There were also reports that detectives believe two vans were used, one for the attack and a second as a getaway vehicle.
Catalonia’s interior minister Joaquim Forn told reporters: “Unfortunately the number of fatalities will likely rise.”
Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “sickened” by the attack which left a Belgian man among the dead, while the Foreign Office is trying to determine if there are British victims.
Carles Puigdemont, the president of Catalonia, said there would be three days of mourning for the region.
Barcelona football club will wear black armbands for their opening match of the season this weekend in tribute to the victims of the terror attack in the city. A minute’s silence will also be held ahead of Barcelona’s meeting with Real Betis at the Nou Camp on Sunday, as well as at matches across Spain.
Lawyer and University of Glasgow rector Aamer Anwar was walking in Las Ramblas when he heard screaming.
He said a shopkeeper told him five or six people were badly injured and described the scene as “chaos”.
Mr Anwar old the Press Association: “I had been to the Cathedral and was walking down Las Ramblas for something to eat.
“Part of it was in the shade so I decided to keep walking down and literally within 10 seconds there was a crashing noise.
“I turned around and people were screaming. I could see a woman screaming with her kids. People started running and jumping into shops.
“I ran for about 50 or 100 metres and stopped to see what was happening.
“The police were very quickly on the scene and getting people to move back.
“I could see chaos right at the top area and I spoke to a shopkeeper who had run down and was screaming.
“He was Bengali so I spoke to him in Urdu and he said a van had driven into a crowd and he thought there were five to six people very seriously injured.”
Steve Garrett was in a nearby market and sheltered in a bakery with several others after streams of people ran inside.
One member of the group who took refuge with him said she had heard gunshots after the incident.
Mr Garrett told the BBC: “A very large number of people ran into the market area in a big kind of way, lots of screaming, lots of shouting.
“The security guards immediately responded. We ran into the bakery with four or five other people and ran straight upstairs and hunkered down whilst an enormous wave of people went through the market.
“The lady that was with us said she heard some gunshots.”
Mr Garrett said a “second wave” of people then entered the market, followed by armed police.
He said: “They seemed to sweep through the market area.
“They seemed to be looking for someone. They were going very carefully, very cautiously, stall to stall.”
Simon Manley, British ambassador to Spain, tweeted: “We are in contact with the authorities and seeking further information following the incident in Barcelona.”
He added: “If you are in the area of Placa Catalunya in £Barcelona please stay put until the police say it’s safe to move Rambles”.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are in contact with the Spanish authorities and seeking more information following an incident in Barcelona.
“Anyone in the area should follow the advice of the emergency services.”