Van plows into crowd in Barcelona; Police view it as terror
La Rambla street

13 killed after van plows into crowd in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district

BARCELONA, Spain — The Latest on the van that ran into a crowd in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district (all times local):

9:40 p.m.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the van attack in Barcelona that officials say killed 12 people and injured many others.

A statement carried by the extremist group’s media arm – the Aamaq news agency – says Thursday’s attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State.”

It says the attack was in response to IS calls for its followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive the extremist group from Syria and Iraq.

The statement provided no further details about the attackers.


9:25 p.m.

The police force for Spain’s Catalonia region says a car knocked down two police officers at a traffic checkpoint in Barcelona.

The Mossos d’Esquadra force did not indicate if the incident was related to the van attack in the city’s Las Ramblas district on Thursday that left 12 people dead and dozens injured.

Barcelona police later said in a tweet that the car and its driver were intercepted about 10 kilometres (6 miles) outside of the downtown area where the original attack happened.

Local media reports said a white Ford Focus ran over the officers and that a person from the car was shot and killed by regional troopers.

Neither the city nor regional police have said whether a suspect was shot.


9:15 p.m.

The president of Spain’s Catalonia region says police have arrested two people in the van attack in Barcelona’s bustling Las Ramblas district.

Carles Puigdemont also gave updated casualty figures during a brief news conference Thursday night.

Puigdemont says 12 people are confirmed dead and at least 80 have been hospitalized since the van jumped a sidewalk and swerved through a busy pedestrian area.

The region’s interior minister had tweeted earlier that 13 people had died in the attack.

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau says a moment of silence will be held in the city’s main square at noon Friday “to show that we are not scared and we are more united that ever.”


8:35 p.m.

A regional government official in Spain says 13 people have been killed in the van attack at a historic shopping and tourist area of Barcelona.

Catalan Interior Minister official Joaquim Forn also said on Twitter that more than 50 people were injured during the attack.

Regional police now are evacuating stores and bars in the Las Ramblas district.

The move came right after police announced they had arrested one suspect and were “treating him as a terrorist.”


BARCELONA, Spain — A white van jumped the sidewalk Thursday in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district, killing and injuring several people as it plowed into a summer crowd of tourists and residents, police said. The El Pais newspaper said police were treating the crash as a terror attack.

Police cordoned off the broad, popular street, ordering stores and nearby Metro and train stations to close. They asked people to stay away from the area so as not to get in the way of emergency services. A helicopter hovered over the scene.

Quoting unnamed police sources, El Pais said the two perpetrators of the crash were holed up in a bar in Tallers Street. There was no immediate police confirmation of the report.

Catalan police tweeted that “there are mortal victims and injured from the crash” without specifying numbers. The Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper reported at least one dead and 20 injured from the van.

In a photograph on public broadcaster RTVE, three people were lying on the ground in the street of the northern Spanish city Thursday afternoon, apparently being helped by police and others. Other videos showed five people down and recorded people screaming as they fled the scene.

Las Ramblas, a street of stalls and shops that cuts through the centre of Barcelona, is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. People walk down a wide, pedestrian path in the centre of the street but cars can travel on either side.

Keith Fleming, an American who lives in Barcelona, was watching TV in his building just off Las Ramblas when he heard a noise and went out to his balcony.

“I saw women and children just running and they looked terrified,” he said.

There was a bang, possibly from someone rolling down a store shutter, and more people ran by. Then police arrived and pushed everyone down the street, a full block away. Even people leaning out of doors were being told to go back inside, he said.

He said police are there with their guns drawn and riot police are at the end of his block. He said his street is now deserted.

“It’s just kind of a tense situation,” Fleming said. “Clearly people were scared.”

Cars, trucks and vans have been the weapon of choice in multiple extremist attacks in Europe in the last year.

The most deadly was the driver of a tractor-trailer who targeted Bastille Day revelers in the southern French city of Nice in July 2016, killing 86 people. In December 2016, 12 people died after a driver used a hijacked trick to drive into a Christmas market in Berlin.

There have been multiple attacks this year in London, where a man in a rented SUV plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four people before he ran onto the grounds of Parliament and stabbed an unarmed police officer to death in March.

Four other men drove onto the sidewalk of London Bridge, unleashing a rampage with knives that killed eight people in June. Another man also drove into pedestrians leaving a London mosque later in June.