A van zigzagged at high speed through a popular pedestrian zone in Barcelona, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 100.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack Thursday at 4:51 p.m. local time near the famous, tree-lined Las Ramblas promenade.
“The perpetrators of the attack in #Barcelona are Islamic state soldiers and carried out the operation on command of [ISIS’ leader] of targeting coalition countries,” the ISIS release stated, according to SITE Intel Group.
Two suspects are under arrest, and a manhunt is underway for the driver of the van.
Police now believe the attack is related to an explosion that took place Wednesday night at a house in the Spanish town of Alcanar in which one person was killed. The connection raises the possibility the terrorists intended to use explosives in the attack, but police did not provide further details.
Police chief Josep Lluís Trapero told reporters neither of the two suspects in custody was the driver of the van.
“The driver has left the van and fled the area without saying a word. There is no evidence that he was armed,” Trapero said. “There is no doubt about the intentionality of this act.”
Police earlier said they had in custody the man who rented the van in the attack, identifying him as a Moroccan named Driss Oukabier. But a man claiming to be Driss Oukabier later came to a police station, insisting his identity papers had been stolen, possibly by his younger brother.
In the early morning hours Friday in Spain, police announced they killed several people in an anti-terror operation in Cambrils.
Police earlier said they investigated a van about 50 miles away in the small town of Vic in Catalonia. They found no explosives but believe the vehicle was related to the attack.
Spanish media previously reported the second van had been rented as a getaway car, Reuters said.
CNN host Wolf Blitzer suggested the Barcelona attack could be a “copycat” of the car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday that killed one woman and injured others.
But vehicles have been used in at least seven Islamic terrorist attacks in Europe over the past year, and ISIS and al-Qaida have called on supporters to use them as weapons.
Among them were the July 2016 Bastille Day attack in France on Nice’s famous beachfront avenue, which killed 86 people. London was targeted twice this year. An attack on pedestrians on Westminster Bridge near parliament in March killed five people and injured about 50. Another, in the London Bridge area, killed eight.
‘We are not scared’
Soon after the attack in Barcelona Thursday, Spain’s El Periodico newspaper reported two armed men were holed up in a nearby Turkish restaurant in the Spanish coastal city’s center. But police now say that what was thought to be a standoff was people barricading themselves in the restaurant.
The city remains on lockdown, and many people are sheltering inside stores.
The Jewish Chronicle reported the incident occurred outside the Maccabi kosher restaurant across from the city’s medieval Jewish quarter
An eyewitness told Sky News: “It was quite terrifying. All of a sudden scores of people ran towards us, hysterical, children hysterical … first of all they said someone had been shot.
“All of a sudden a second wave of people came down the street, we just ran, I lost my husband in the melee. The shops went into lockdown mode.”
A video shows the horrific aftermath in Barcelona’s historic Placa de Catalunya, with bodies lying motionless on the ground amid debris from nearby stalls.
El Periodico reported the CIA had warned local police two months ago that Las Ramblas could be the scene of a terrorist attack.
Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, said a minute of silence will be held Friday in the city’s main square “to show that we are not scared.”
ISIS supporters celebrated the attack on social media before ISIS officially took responsibility for it.
In Washington, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. stands “ready to assist law enforcement and national security authorities in Spain.”
“Terrorists around the world should know the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice,” Tillerson said.
President Trump tweeted: “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!”
The office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the “revolting attack.”
“We are thinking with profound sadness of the victims of the revolting attack in Barcelona — with solidarity and frienship alongside the Spanish people,” tweeted spokesman Steffen Seibert.
French President Emmanuel Macron said via Twitter: “We remain united and determined,” saying his thoughts were with the victims of the “tragic attack.”
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