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Barcelona Becomes Latest European City To Suffer Vehicle Terror Attack After Las Ramblas Incident

A van plowed into a crowd, killing many and injuring more than 100.

17/08/2017 22:49 BST | Updated 17/08/2017 23:55 BST

What we know so far:

  • Incident happened around 5pm local time on Las Ramblas, ​​a busy tourist area
  • Authorities have confirmed there are least 13 people dead and more than 100 injured
  • Islamic State claims responsibility
  • Two people have been arrested, Catalonia’s regional president has said
  • Police in Barcelona have said the incident is ‘most likely’ a terror attack
  • Van crossed central promenade of the Rambla de Canaletas and crashed into a kiosk
  • Metro stations are closed and people have been asked to ‘avoid the area’
  • Two police officers were hit by a car in an unrelated incident
  • One person died in an explosion in a house in Catalonia, which police say is related

Barcelona became the latest European city to suffer a terrorist vehicle attack, when a van drove into people on the busy Las Ramblas, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 100.

After attacks on London Bridge, Westminster and last year in Nice, the van hit dozens of people on Thursday afternoon on the broad street, which is popular among tourists.

Eyewitnesses described being locked in to churches and shops for their own safety after people clamoured to run away. One British tourist describing a “mini stampede” as people fled screaming. 

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A woman cries at the area after a van plowed into a crowd in Barcelona

Shaky video showed people lying unresponsive, gravely wounded on the pavement.

As patchy and contradictory information about what had happened emerged, three days of mourning were declared and the so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police later tweeted they could not confirm the driver’s motive.

David Ramos via Getty Images
People look toward the scene of the attack

Two people have been arrested but police said neither of them was the van’s driver.

Hours after the attack, the scale of what happened remained unclear.

Police said an explosion at a house in the Catalonian village of Alcanar, which killed one person on Wednesday night, was related to the Barcelona attack.

However, a driver, who drove into two police officers later on Thursday and was then shot dead, was not related to the terror attack, police said.

Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan - whose city has suffered two terror attacks this year - were among the politicians condemning the attack and expressing solidarity with Spain.

May said: “I am sickened by the senseless loss of life in Barcelona... Following the attacks in Manchester and London, Spain stood alongside the British people. Tonight, Britain stands with Spain against the evil of terrorism.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel all voiced their sympathy for the victims.

Donald Trump also tweeted a statement on the attack, saying America would do whatever is necessary to help.

But shortly afterwards, he tweeted a tirade against “Radical Islamic Terror” and referenced an untrue story about killing Muslim insurgents with bullets dipped in pig’s blood.

The Belgian Government has said one of its nationals is among the dead.

It is likely those killed and injured will be from many nations, as the Spanish draws millions of visitors from around the world every year.

As this article went live, the Foreign Office said it was trying to establish whether any Britons were involved.

Police initially said there had been a “massive trampling” of people.

Las Ramblas is a historic street leading up to a central plaza in the city.

A pedestrian walkway runs down its centre, with cars driving on either side.

Armed police were methodically searching for suspects following the incident.

Local media initially reported two men were “holed up” in a bar after what happened but this was eventually denied.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
 Police officers evacuate people from the area after the attack
JOSEP LAGO via Getty Images
Abandoned air balloons of a street vendor tied to a chair fly at Barcelona's empty Plaza de Catalunya after the attack

In an extraordinary twist, a man suspected of being involved, whose image was widely circulated in the media, came forward to claim he was the victim of identity theft and was not involved.

The arrested people have not been identified.

IS said the people who carried out the attack were “soldiers of the Islamic State” who “carried out the operation in response to appeals targeting coalition countries”.

The terror group has advocated and celebrated its supporters using vehicles to target pedestrians.

Authorities have struggled with ways to address the potential threat.

The Counter Extremism Project has documented 31 other vehicular terror attacks carried out since 2006 that have killed 170 people.

It has also documented seven Islamist terror attacks using vehicles in Europe since the July 2016 truck attack in Nice, France which killed 84 people.