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13 dead as van rams crowd in Barcelona ‘terror attack’

BARCELONA: At least 13 people were killed Thursday when a driver deliberately slammed a van into crowds on Barcelona’s most popular street in what police said was a “terror attack”.

The attack, the latest in a wave of vehicle rammings across Europe in recent years, caused panic on the streets of Spain’s largest city and drew condemnation from world leaders.

“We can confirm there are 13 dead and more than 50 injured,” regional interior minister Joaquim Forn said in a tweet.

Catalan police said they had arrested one suspect, and denied earlier reports that the perpetrator was holed up in a bar near the scene.

 

The famous Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona’s busiest streets, lined with shops and restaurants and normally thronged with tourists and street performers until well into the night.

Police said there had been a “huge collision” between a van and pedestrians on the thoroughfare and a police source said officers were seeking a total of two suspects.

Spain’s royal family condemned the assault in unusually strong terms, vowing that their country would not be “terrorised” by extremists.

 

‘Bodies on the floor’

Witnesses spoke of a scene of carnage, with bodies strewn along the boulevard as others fleeing for their lives.

“When it happened I ran out and saw the damage,” local shop worker Xavi Perez told AFP.

“There were bodies on the floor with people crowding round them. People were crying. There were lots of foreigners.”

Witness Aamer Anwar told Britain’s Sky News television that he was walking down Las Ramblas, which he described as “jam-packed” with tourists.

“All of a sudden, I just sort of heard a crashing noise and the whole street just started to run, screaming. I saw a woman right next to me screaming for her kids.”

‘Revolting attack’

“The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help,” US President Donald Trump tweeted.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron — whose country witnessed a similar horror when a Tunisian man ploughed a 19-tonne truck through a crowded boulevard in Nice, killing 86 people in July 2016 — said his thoughts were with the victims of the “tragic attack”.

A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the “revolting attack” and British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Twitter that London “stands with Spain against terror”.

 

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