Barcelona Terror Attack: Van Crashes Into Pedestrians in City Center Killing at Least 13

Barcelona Terror Attack: Van Crashes Into Pedestrians in City Center Killing at Least 13

BARCELONA, Spain -- Police in the northern Spanish city of Barcelona say a white van has jumped the sidewalk in the city's historic Las Ramblas district, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 50. Spanish public broadcaster RTVE says one suspect has been arrested.

Police are treating the incident as a terror attack.

"We confirm the terrorist attack," Catalan police said. "The protocol for terrorist attacks has been activated."

A regional interior minister confirmed on Twitter that at least 13 people were killed in the attack and more than 50 injured.

In a photograph shown by RTVE, at least five people were lying on the ground in the street Thursday afternoon and were apparently being helped by police and others. Videos of the scene recorded people screaming as they fled.

At this time, the extent of the victims' injuries remains unclear.

On Twitter, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he is in contact with authorities and the priority is to attend to the injured. 

Reuters reports two armed men reportedly entered a restaurant following the crash. Police say they have located a second van connected to the attack in the town of Vic. 

Spain's El Pais newspaper, citing police sources, says perpetrators of the van incident are holed up in a bar. Armed police ran down the streets and through a market, checking in stores and cafes, presumably in search of them.

Barcelona's Tv3 reports police have surrounded a bar called Rey de Istanbul. A man thought to be the driver of a van was surrounded by police. The Spanish passport of a person of Moroccan origin was found at the scene of the attack.

Police haven't confirmed they have a suspect cornered.

Catalan Emergency Services have asked authorities to close train stations in the area close to the crash site.

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

Authorities are asking people not to go near the area.

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.

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 a full block away. Even people leaning out of doors were being told to go back inside, he said.

Fleming said regular police had their guns drawn and riot police were at the end of his block, which was now deserted.

Policemen stand next to vehicles in a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona. (JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images) 

Policemen stand next to vehicles in a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona. (JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images) 

"It's just kind of a tense situation," Fleming said. "Clearly people were scared."

Carol Augustin, a manager at La Palau Moja -- an 18th-century place on Las Ramblas that houses government offices and a tourism information center -- said the van passed right in front of the building.

"We saw everything. People started screaming and running into the office. It was such a chaotic situation. There were families with children. The police made us close the doors and wait inside," she said. 

In the U.S., President Trump tweeted about the attack from his New Jersey golf club, where he is on a working vacation.

"The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!" the president wrote.

 

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