Spain Terror Attack: Up to 13 Dead After Truck Ploughs into Crowds, Two Arrests

Spanish police have confirmed a rented truck has struck a crowd on a popular tourist street in central Barcelona in what they are calling a “coordinated terrorist attack”, with authorities confirming 13 dead and over 100 injured.

UPDATE, 10:00 AM GMT: Get the latest updates on this developing story from the Breitbart London team as they continue coverage throughout Friday here

Update, 21:03 PM EST:  Police confirm four deaths and a fifth terror suspect injured in the attack, stating that the situation is now “under control” but the operation has not concluded.

Update, 21:00 PM EST:  El País reports that “at least five terrorists” were killed in the Cambrils operation. The newspaper cites “investigative sources” who say that the terrorists were in a car and attempted a ramming attack and ran over several people, injuring five, including one police officer.

Update, 20:58 PM EST:  Spanish newspaper ABC reports that their police sources say the terrorists neutralized were wearing explosives on their bodies. There is no confirmation yet of a relationship between this terror attack attempt and the incident in Barcelona earlier.

Update, 20:52 PM EST: Spanish state television TVE has broadcast some of the first footage out of Cambrils showing police activity.

 

Update, 20:45 PM EST: Police have announced that a separate terrorism incident has occurred in Cambrils, a beach town in the state of Catalonia. They are defining the event as “terrorism” and requested all citizens stay in their homes until the operation concludes.

While official news sources have refused to provide more information – and have demanded in numerous tweets that the media not report anything outside of information straight from police – Spanish media outlets are reporting that at least four terrorism suspects have died in a raid after police thwarted another car ramming attack.

El Mundo reports that the individuals in question were carrying explosives and cite police sources who allegedly confirmed that “the four terrorists killed were attempting to replicate in Cambrils a car ramming attack like the one in Barcelona.”

Update, 17:39 PM EST: According to El Mundo, the police briefing noted that, of the 100 injured, 15 are in critical condition. The newspaper notes that three of the victims are now known to be German citizens.

The man driving the car is not among the two arrested or the third killed and is suspected to be on the loose. Police say witnesses did not see him visibly armed and did not hear any Islamic proclamations from the car as it ran people over. Jihadists often shout “allahu akbar” – “allah is the greatest” – and Islamic State sympathizers, in particular, are known to pledge allegiance to “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during terrorist attacks.

Police did not address any reports involving the names of those arrested.

Update, 17:07 PM EST: Police have confirmed that two suspects are in custody: one, a Moroccan citizen, and the other a Spanish citizen from Melilla. Melilla is a Spanish territory on the African continent surrounded by Moroccan land.

According to a translation by ABC, police confirmed neither individual had a criminal past, contra early reports claiming that one of the suspects had been released from prison. Neither of the men arrested is believed to have driven the van in question into the crowd, but both are tied to the terrorist attack. Police did not specify whether they were involved in planning or execution of the attack.

Police also have evidence tying the suspects to an explosion that occurred this morning in Alcanar.

Barcelona has declared three days of mourning and will host an event in memory of the victims.

Update, 16:51 PM EST: In a press conference, Barcelona officials confirm 13 dead and “over one hundred” injuries. “This number may grow in the upcoming hours,” officials warned.

Update, 16:32 PM EST: Barcelona’s taxi services and hotels are offering free transportation and lodging to those trapped within the scene of the terror attack this afternoon, according to Vanguardia. The city center is a large attraction for tourists and typically populated with many visitors enjoying its wide variety of stores.

Update, 16:24 PM EST: The Belgian foreign minister confirmed that there is a Belgian citizen among those killed in Barcelona today, the first such confirmation of victim identities.

Update, 16:16 PM EST: AP reports a search for a bomb near where the second attack took place.

Update, 16:03 PM EST: Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reports that a man identifying himself as Driss Oukabir, the man whose identification Spanish authorities say they found in one of the two vans rented and used in the attack, has walked into a police station claiming his legal documents were stolen.

According to the mayor of Ripoll, the town where the man claiming to be Oukabir entered a police station, the man told police “that, upon seeing his photo in the media, he came to the police station to explain that his documents had been stolen.” The mayor, Jordi Munell, claims that Oukabir is “well known in the community.”

The report claims the mayor believes it is possible that Oukabir’s younger brother, 18-year-old Moussa, stole the documents in question. Moussa Oukabir lives in Barcelona. Driss Oukabir is a French national, according to Vanguardia.

Police confirm one suspect dead, two arrested so far related to this incident.

Update, 15:57 PM EST: In a new column, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo notes that nearly 40 percent of jihad-related arrests in Spain have occurred in Cataluña, most in Barcelona, despite the south of the nation’s borders with Muslim Morocco in Melilla and Ceuta.

 

Update, 15:45 PM EST: Spanish authorities confirm a second arrest: “Police operations due to the Barcelona incident continue on the march. We confirm two detained.”

Update, 15:41 PM EST: SITE Intelligence reports that, in addition to the official declaration from the Amaq News Agency, Islamic State supporters on social media have published celebrations of the attack and threats for subsequent attacks in Spain.

Update, 15:35 PM EST: Regional authorities update the death and injury count in the original van attack (presumably not including the subsequent attack on police).

Update, 15:30 PM EST: The Islamic State has taken responsibility for the Barcelona attack, speaking through its Amaq news agency.

Update, 15:25 PM EST: “Terrorists will never defeat a united people who love freedom over barbarism. All Spain is with victims and their families,” said Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey of Spain in a tweet.

The BBC reports that two arrests have now been made in connection with the attack.

Update, 15:15 PM EST: “Terrorists around the world should know that the United States and its allies will find you and bring you to justice,” said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a statement on the Barcelona attack.

Fox News television reports that Driss Oukabir is a legal resident of Spain, while Sky News states he was a resident of Ripoll, Catalona, about 50 miles north of Barcelona. Fox coverage also states that Oukabir spent time in jail for unspecified reasons, was released in 2012, and arrived in Barcelona three days ago.

Sky News is reporting that a second arrest was made in Manlleu, about 13 miles south of Ripoll. Unconfirmed reports of at least two police shootouts in the area are also mentioned.

The estimate of people wounded in the attack has risen to 80.

Police have confirmed the second car ramming attack, which was directed against two policemen.

Update, 15:05 PM EST: More responses from world leaders… “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough and strong, we love you!” said President Donald Trump.

“My thoughts are with the victims of today’s terrible attack in Barcelona and the emergency services responding to this ongoing incident. The UK stands with Spain against terror,” said British Prime Minister Theresa May in a statement.

“All my thoughts and the solidarity of France for the victims of the tragic attack in Barcelona. We remain united and determined,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.

“We are thinking with profound sadness of the victims of the revolting attack in Barcelona, and with solidarity and friendship for the Spanish people,” said Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Update, 15:00 PM EST: Barcelona police have reportedly recovered what France24 describes as “a passport in the van belonging to a Spanish national with an Arabic surname.”

Update, 14:50 PM EST: A photograph of the suspect in custody, Driss Oukabir, has been released by the police:

According to Heavy.com, Oukabir is a Moroccan from Marseilles. Several media outlets have said he is the gunman taken into custody after seeking refuge in a nearby restaurant, but otherwise his exact role in the incident is not yet clear.

“A Facebook page that appeared to be the suspect’s gave his name as Driss Oukabir Soprano and said he lives in Ripoli and is from Marseilles, France; the page shared anti-Semitic posts, a post about Muslim reaction to Christianity, and Moroccan music videos,” the Heavy report says, citing Spanish and French media who said the Facebook page is authentic, although the authorities have not certified that yet.

Update, 14:45 PM EST: The Spanish Royal Family tweeted a defiant message to the attackers. Translated into English, it reads: “They are assassins, simply criminals who are not going to terrorize us. All of Spain is Barcelona. La Rambla will be back for everyone.”

Original post follows:

Hours after the incident, three police officers were run over on the Barcelona Avinguda Diagonal, another major thoroughfare in the city roughly a mile away, as a car attempted to overrun a checkpoint. Spain’s El Mundo reports it is unknown whether the second incident is linked to the earlier fatal attack.

According to reports, the van involved in the incident left the road and entered the pedestrianized area of the walk and drove through the crowds until it crashed into a kiosk. Spanish police were quick to identify the incident as a “terrorist attack” and said the attackers had fled the scene.

Local media had reported earlier that the two attackers were “entrenched” in a bar in the nearby Raval de Barcelona district, however, this was subsequently revealed to be incorrect. The men are reported to be armed, but Spanish emergency services denied there has been a gun battle on Twitter.

Some two hours after the attack took place, it was reported police had made an arrest, with unconfirmed footage of one taking place circulating on Twitter.

France24 reports a passport was found in the attack vehicle belonging to a man with an “Arabic surname”, while local broadcaster TeleMadrid and elPeriodico reports the name of the man who hired the van involved in the attack as Driss el Ouakbir.

Police operation underway in Barcelona / AFP Image

El Mundo quotes “police sources” who told the paper there were “at least” 13 dead after the attack. Footage posted to social media after the attack shows scenes of carnage, with dozens of victims strewn across the street receiving first aid. Police have so far confirmed one fatality.

Police evacuated the La Rambla pedestrianized street in Barcelona Thursday afternoon, as shop keepers closed their roller-shutters with customers inside to protect them from events outside, reports local newspaper La Vanguardia. All local railway stations have been closed.

An English-language tweet by the official account of the Catalan police declared there had been a “massive” incident by a “person with a van” and that “there are injured”. Subsequent messages in Spanish instruct followers to avoid the La Rambla area and for civilians to not obstruct the work of the emergency services.

AP Images

Police have gone door to door in the area ordering businesses to shut their doors and to keep customers inside. A tweet from the Catalan emergency services account instructs people to “stay inside” until told otherwise by officers.

Politicians are beginning to respond to the situation, with a White House official remarking “The Chief of Staff is aware of the situation, and keeping the President abreast”, and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz taking to Twitter to call it a “brutal act of terror”.

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