A Van Veered onto a Promenade and Barreled Down the Busy Walkway in Barcelona, Spain, Killing 13 People and Wounding Dozens

By Barry Hatton and Joseph Wilson | The Canadian Press, August 18, 2017 | Go to article overview

A Van Veered onto a Promenade and Barreled Down the Busy Walkway in Barcelona, Spain, Killing 13 People and Wounding Dozens


Barry Hatton and Joseph Wilson, The Canadian Press


Barcelona van attack kills 13 in agonizing repeat for Europe

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- A van veered onto a promenade and barreled down the busy walkway in central Barcelona on Thursday, swerving back and forth as it mowed down pedestrians and turned a picturesque tourist destination into a bloody killing zone. Thirteen people were killed and 100 were injured, 15 of them seriously, in what authorities called a terrorist attack. Two people have been arrested but the van driver, who fled on foot, remains at large. Early Friday morning, police killed five suspects engaged in an attack that injured six people in a seaside resort town. Police suspect the attacks are related. The late afternoon attack in the city's Las Ramblas district left victims sprawled in the historic street, spattered with blood or writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with their guns drawn or fled in panic, screaming and carrying young children in their arms. "It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible," Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official for Spain's Catalonia region told reporters late Thursday. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by "soldiers of the Islamic State" in response to the extremist group's calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq. Early Friday, Catalan police said they shot and killed five suspects in response to a terrorist attack in the seaside resort town of Cambrils, south of Barcelona. They said the suspects carried bomb belts, which were detonated by a police bomb squad. Media reports said a car crashed into a police vehicle and nearby civilians and police shot the attackers, one brandishing a knife. Police did not immediately say how the attack was being carried out. A police officer and five civilians were injured and two were in serious condition. Police are working on the theory that the Cambrils and Barcelona attacks are connected, as well as a Wednesday night explosion in the town of Alcanar in which one person was killed. The Catalan regional government said citizens from 24 countries were among the people killed and injured during the Barcelona van attack. Authorities said the dead included a Belgian and a Greek woman was among the injured. Australia confirmed three of its citizens were injured; two others were Taiwanese and one was from Hong Kong, according to their governments. Germany was investigating whether its citizens were among the dead or injured. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the killings a "savage terrorist attack" and said Spaniards "are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life." After the afternoon attack, Las Ramblas went into lockdown. Swarms of officers brandishing hand guns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafes and public transport to shut down. Several hours later authorities reported two arrests, one a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish-run Mediterranean seafront enclave in North Africa, and the other a Moroccan. They declined to identify them. Trapero said neither of them was the van's driver, who remained at large after abandoning the van and fleeing on foot. The arrests took place in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll and in Alcanar, where a gas explosion in a house is being investigated for a possible connection. Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and other news outlets named one of the detained as Driss Oukabir, a French citizen of Moroccan origin. …

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