13 dead, over 50 hurt in Barcelona attack

At least 13 people were killed and over 50 injured on Thursday when a driver ploughed a van into pedestrians on a busy street in Barcelona popular with tourists, the region's interior minister said.

“We can confirm there are 13 dead and more than 50 injured,” Joaquim Forn tweeted.

A white van jumped the sidewalk in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district and rammed into a summer crowd of tourists and residents, police said.

A person suspected of driving a van into pedestrians on one of the busiest streets of Barcelona on Thursday was holed up in a bar, a Spanish police source said.

“One of the attackers is holed up in a bar,” said the source, who declined to be named, adding that police were looking for a total of two suspects over the attack.

Spain's royals condemned the attack, saying the country would not be “terrorised.”

“They are assassins, criminals who won't terrorise us. All of Spain is Barcelona,” the royals tweeted in an unusually strongly-worded statement, joining Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who said “terrorists will never defeat a united people.”

The El Pais newspaper said police were treating the crash as a terror attack.

Policemen check the identity of people standing with their hands up after a van ploughed into the crowd. —AFP

In a photograph on public broadcaster RTVE, three people were lying on the ground in the street of the northern Spanish city Thursday afternoon, apparently being helped by police and others. Other videos showed five people down and recorded people screaming as they fled the scene.

Police cordoned off the broad, popular street, ordering stores and nearby Metro and train stations to close. They asked people to stay away from the area so as not to get in the way of emergency services. A helicopter hovered over the scene.

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

Cars, trucks, and vans have been the weapon of choice in multiple extremist attacks in Europe in the last year.

The most deadly was the driver of a tractor-trailer who targeted Bastille Day revelers in the southern French city of Nice in July 2016, killing 86 people. In December 2016, 12 people died after a driver used a hijacked trick to drive into a Christmas market in Berlin.

There have been multiple attacks this year in London, where a man in a rented SUV plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four people before he ran onto the grounds of Parliament and stabbed an unarmed police officer to death in March and four men drove onto the sidewalk of London Bridge and rampaged with knives nearby, killing eight in June.

A man also drove into pedestrians leaving a London mosque later in June.

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