At least 13 people have been confirmed dead
Two terror attacks have taken place in the Catalonia region of Spain. On Thursday (August 17) around 16.50 local time, a white van ploughed into people on the popular tourist boulevard Las Ramblas in Barcelona.
Witnesses told multiple news outlets that the van “zig-zagged” to deliberate hit as many civilians as possible, riding up onto the pavements as people dove to take cover in shops. 13 people have been confirmed dead from this attack, with more than 100 injured. 32 of those injured are reportedly seriously hurt, and the death toll is expected to rise. Victims have been identified from several different countries including Belgium, France and the Phillipines. The assailant was able to escape – witnesses describe him as a young man in his 20s “with a thin face”.
Spanish media reports that that the man they are seeking in relation to the attack is Moussa Oukabir, the younger brother of Driss Oukabir, who was arrested as he had hired the van used as a weapon. Driss Oukabir has denied any part in what's happened, and told police he had his identity stolen. Moussa Oukabir is believed to be 18-years-old; police think he fled the scene and is now on the run.
Ethan Spidey, a tourist in the area, told the Independent: “I was with my boyfriend just about to cross Las Ramblas, and all of a sudden there was an immediate stampede and police shouting at people to run.
“There was a stampede in the streets alongside Las Ramblas as everyone tried to run away,” he added. “People were running into shops and taking refuge in case. There was a lot of screaming.”
Security has been amped up in the city – the area has been cleared and toll stations have been set up with armed police units. It is officially being treated as a terrorist attack.
Approximately eight hours later, a car drove into people in the seaside town of Cambrils – six people were injured, one is still in a critical condition, and a police officer was injured. Five attackers, who were wearing suicide belts later found to be fake, were shot by authorities. Four died on the scene while one died later of his injuries. The BBC reports that both the attacks are linked.
Two people have reportedly been arrested in Catalonian towns, though neither are the drive from the Las Ramblas incident, and another has been arrested in Ripoll.
An explosion on Wednesday (August 16) in a house filled with bottles of explosive propane and butane in Alcanar, outside of Barcelona, killed one person and wounded seven. Police have linked this to the other events, and believe it was a headquarters for preparing bombs.
The ‘Islamic State’ has claimed responsibility for the Las Ramblas attack, though there is no evidence as of yet backing up the claim.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has tweeted about the attacks: “thoughts are with the victim of this barbaric terrorist attack in the great city of Barcelona and with their brave emergency services. London stands with Barcelona against the evil of terrorism.”
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has responded to the horrific attack by reviving a debunked myth. Responding more quickly than he did to the Charlottesville incident, he tweeted about a factitious story of General Pershing, who was said to dip bullets in pig’s blood beore excuting Islamic soldiers.
“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” the U.S president tweeted.
This story will be updated as news comes in