A rental van driven by terrorists plowed into a crowd in a tourist area of Barcelona on Thursday, killing at least 13 people, NBC News reports. Also injuring more than 100 people, the van drove down the city’s pedestrian-heavy Las Ramblas street before its driver abandoned the vehicle. According to The New York Times, two people were later arrested, but neither of the men was the van’s driver, who is still on the loose. An ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency claimed responsibility for the attack, but has yet to show any proof of its involvement.
Catalan Police Chief Josep Lluis Trapero says that one arrested suspect was Moroccan and the other was from the Spanish area Melilla, CNN reports. Trapero also revealed that Wednesday night’s house explosion in the city of Alcanar, about 120 miles away from Barcelona, is somehow tied to the primary attack.
An eyewitness reported that the van was driving around 50 mph through the pedestrian plaza, making it clear that the driver’s aim was to harm passerby. 17-year-old Pablo Morante told NBC News that he was on a bus when he noticed a van on the street “doing movements to hit as many people as possible.” “We were all scared,” he said. “So many people were running in every direction, and there were a lot of police cars and police with guns. People got off the bus and started running.”
Following the area’s initial outbreak of confusion around 5:30 p.m. local time, police officers tried to move people out of the area. Authorities also told those nearby to stay inside until the situation was stabilized. The Times claims that taxis offered free rides to those stranded in the city, and although all Barcelona public transit stopped, transportation was reportedly free in areas where trains and buses were still running.
This incident is the deadliest terror attack in Spain since the Madrid train bombings in March 2004. It’s also difficult to ignore that this is the sixth European attack involving a vehicle in the past 13 months. In a move that is becoming all too familiar, several world leaders took to Twitter to offer their condolences. President Donald Trump was among these leaders, advising people to "be tough and strong" in light of the attack. Former President Barack Obama also offered some well wishes.
The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
Michelle and I are thinking of the victims and their families in Barcelona. Americans will always stand with our Spanish friends. Un abrazo.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 17, 2017
Sadiq Khan, London's mayor, faced similar terror attacks in his own city earlier this year.
London stands with Barcelona against the evil of terrorism.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) August 17, 2017
Vice President Mike Pence also addressed the attack at an event.
VP Pence on Barcelona: "On this dark day our prayers, and the prayers of all the American people, are with the victims, their families."pic.twitter.com/k9GLDa6tnL
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 17, 2017
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey said, "I want to also express my solidarity with all of Spain to the city of Barcelona, today hit by jihadi terrorism, like other cities have been in the world."
According to ABC News, Catalan officials have revealed that the area will observe three days of mourning in honor of Barcelona's victims. Our thoughts are with Spain as the country mourns its losses and continues its investigation of this event.