A van plowed into pedestrians on one of Barcelona’s busiest streets at the height of the summer tourist season, causing multiple deaths and injuries, as local media reported the driver fled the scene and was holed up in a nearby restaurant.
Spanish media including El Mundo put the death toll at 13. The authorities, who are treating the incident as a terrorist attack, didn’t give a specific number. They said 32 were injured.
The van struck crowds in Las Ramblas, an iconic tourist spot, and a witness told TVE it zigzagged into people at 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour. Catalan police are negotiating with at least one armed perpetrator who was dug in at a Turkish restaurant, TVE said. Police said they were pursuing the suspect. One man was apprehended, the broadcaster reported.
Images of injured victims being tended to on the sidewalk are all too familiar in Europe. Terrorists in London drove vehicles into pedestrians on bridges in two incidents this year, leaving many dead. There was also an attack using a van in Stockholm. Last year, trucks plowed through crowds in Berlin and Nice.
Spain has long been a target of Islamist-inspired terrorism; one of the worst attacks in Europe was in Madrid in 2004 when about 200 people were killed by bombs on early morning commuter trains.
Television images showed scenes of chaos as people tended to the wounded with police closing off the center of Barcelona and telling people to stay home. Train and metro stations were closed in the area and shops pulled down their shutters.
Spain is the world’s biggest tourist destination after France and the U.S. and the Catalan city of Barcelona is among its star attractions. It received more than 75 million foreign visitors last year and tourism is a key provider of jobs.
Culled from Bloomberg.com by Todd White, Rodrigo Orihuela, Chris Kingdon, Nour Al Ali, Esteban Duarte, and Macarena Munoz Montijano