Barcelona Attack: Van Crashes Into Crowd Killing 13; ISIS Claims Attack, Driver on the Run

Police: Two suspects arrested, but driver still at large ■ 100 injured in attack in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district ■ Police link attack to earlier house explosion ■ Trump, Netanyahu condemn attack

Emergency workers stand on a blocked street in Barcelona, August 17, 2017.
Emergency workers stand on a blocked street in Barcelona, August 17, 2017. Manu Fernandez/AP

Thirteen people were killed when a van jumped the sidewalk and crashed into dozens of people in Barcelona's central Las Ramblas district on Thursday. Two suspects have been arrested, but neither was the driver, police said. Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Hours later, police in Spain said they shot and killed four attackers in Cambrils, south of Barcelona, and another was seriously injured following an operation there against what authorities called a second terrorist attack.

Police officers check the identity of people after a van plowed into the crowd in central Barcelona, August 17, 2017.
JOSEP LAGO/AFP

Police said they were treating the crash at Barcelona's Plaça Catalunya, a busy tourist area, as a terror attack. They said that 100 people were injured by the van, 15 of them seriously.

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.

Police officers tell people to leave the scene in the center of Barcelona, August 17, 2017.
Manu Fernandez/AP
An injured person is treated in Barcelona after a van plowed into pedestrians in the city center, August 17, 2017.
Oriol Duran/AP

Two men were arrested in connection to the attack but neither was the driver of the vehicle, police said. Police confirmed that another man who ran over two officers at a checkpoint in Barcelona was shot dead, but added that it did not appear that the incident was linked to the van attack.

They said that one of the two men arrested was Moroccan and the other was from the Spanish enclave of Melilla in North Africa. They were arrested in two different towns in the region of Catalonia, Ripoll and Alcanar. 

Separately, police said that the van attack appeared to be linked to an explosion at a house in Alcanar in the early hours of Thursday in which one person died and another was injured.

Reports initially said that the driver of the van fled on foot, but later, El Pais said two perpetrators of the crash were barricaded in a bar in Tallers Street, quoting unnamed police sources.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the van attack was "jihadist terrorism" which required a global response. "Today the fight against terrorism is the principal priority for free and open societies like ours. It is a global threat and the response has to be global," Rajoy told a news conference in Barcelona.

The police found a second van connected to the attack in the Catalan town of Vic, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) north of Barcelona. Spanish media reported earlier that a second van had been rented as a getaway car by attackers.

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.

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

Policemen stand next to vehicles in a cordoned-off area after a van plowed into the crowd in Barcelona, August 17, 2017.
JOSEP LAGO/AFP

Keith Fleming, an American who lives in Barcelona, was watching TV in his building just off Las Ramblas when he heard a noise and went out to his balcony.

"I saw women and children just running and they looked terrified," he said.

There was a bang, possibly from someone rolling down a store shutter, and more people ran by. Then police arrived and pushed everyone down the street, a full block away. Even people leaning out of doors were being told to go back inside, he said.

He said police are there with their guns drawn and riot police are at the end of his block. He said his street is now deserted.

"It's just kind of a tense situation," Fleming said. "Clearly people were scared."

U.S. President Donald Trump condemned the attack and offered whatever help was necessary. "The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help," Trump said on Twitter. "Be tough & strong, we love you!"

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also offered his condolences. "I'd like to start by acknowledging the incident in Barcelona, which has the hallmarks, it appears, of yet another terrorist attack," Tillerson said as he opened a joint news conference with Japanese officials. "Terrorists around the world should know the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel strongly condemns the attack. "This evening we saw once again that terror strikes anywhere, and the civilized world must fight it together in order to defeat it", he said.

Cars, trucks and vans have been the weapon of choice in multiple extremist attacks in Europe in the last year. Well over 100 people have been killed in car-rammings in Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm.