Thirteen people have died and dozens were injured after a van ploughed into crowds in Barcelona’s famous Las Ramblas, popular with tourists, police and local officials say.
The vehicle sped along the pedestrian area, mowing down people and sending others fleeing for cover. Police are treating it as a terrorist attack. The head of the Catalan region said two people had been arrested.
Spanish media are reporting another suspect died in a shootout. El Mundo newspaper said the shootout happened in Sant Just Lesvern, on the outskirts of the city.
Police have released a photo of a man named as Driss Oubakir, who is alleged to have rented the van used to drive into pedestrians. Local media say he is in his 20s, and were born in Morocco. It is unclear if he is one of those arrested.
So-called Islamic State has said it was behind the van attack in Las Ramblas, saying in a statement carried by its Amaq news agency that it was carried out by “Islamic State soldiers”. The group gave no further evidence or details to back this claim.The attack happened at the height of the season in one of Europe’s top tourist destinations.
Witnesses said the van had deliberately targeted people, weaving from side to side as it drove down the boulevard. Spanish media reports said the driver of the vehicle – a white Fiat that had been rented in the city – then fled on foot.
Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, said the city would hold a minute of silence on Friday at midday. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was heading to Barcelona, adding: “Maximum co-ordination to arrest the attackers, reinforce security and attend to all those affected.” The United States has offered its assistance to Spain.