Barcelona attack: police kill four suspects in Cambrils terror raid – latest updates

Barcelona Attack

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Barcelona attack: police kill four suspects in Cambrils terror raid – latest updates” was written by Claire Phipps (now), and Alexandra Topping and Nicola Slawson (earlier), for theguardian.com on Friday 18th August 2017 01.18 UTC

There have been reports in Spanish media that the suspects targeted by police in Cambrils were wearing what appeared to be explosive belts.

Police now confirm that bomb disposal experts (Tedex) are investigating this.

In the attack on London Bridge in June, the attackers wore what appeared to be suicide belts, but these were discovered to be fake.

Barcelona, Cambrils, Alcanar linked, police say

Catalan police and the region’s interior minister, Joaquim Forn, have confirmed that investigators are working on the presumption that the attack on Las Ramblas, the thwarted attack in Cambrils, and the earlier house explosion in Alcanar are all connected.

In a statement posted on its website, the Chinese consulate in Barcelona said it was not aware of any Chinese fatalities, but said one tourist from Hong Kong had suffered minor injuries in the attack in Barcelona.

There were no other reports of Chinese citizens having been hurt.
The consulate urged Chinese citizens to contact local police in the case of an emergency.

The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, said the whole country country stands in solidarity with Barcelona, blaming “jihadi terrorism” for the attack that has left 13 people dead and many more injured.

Spanish prime minister says Barcelona has been hit by ‘jihadi terrorism’

It’s close to 3am in Spain. Catalan police say that although investigations continue in Cambrils, where four suspects were shot dead, “the situation is under control”.

Here is the official statement from the Catalan police about the Cambrils shooting.

It reads:

As well as the four killed in Cambrils, there is a fifth perpetrator injured during the same operation.

The injured suspect has been arrested.

Updated

In photographs and video from the scene in Cambrils, three bodies can be seen lying in front of the town’s yacht club, Club Nàutic: it’s not clear if they are the alleged perpetrators shot by police.

This image – not taken today – shows the usual view of the club.

Club Nàutic, Cambrils.

Club Nàutic, Cambrils.
Photograph: Google

Police in other parts of Spain also appear to be on high alert. At least one police roadblock was operating in the small hours of Friday morning near the Retiro Park in the capital, Madrid, when I reached the city.

This video from Cambrils shows people taking cover as approximately eight shots ring out.

Catalan police later confirmed that officers shot dead four alleged perpetrators and injured one more during the counter-terror raids there.

Gunfire rings out in Cambrils during counter-terrorism raids

This now looks like a coordinated attempt to carry out attacks in several parts of Catalonia, with tourists as a target.

Five other people are reported – though this is not yet confirmed – to have been injured on the seafront Paseo Maritimo in the Cambrils attack, allegedly by the suspected terrorists who were then shot by police.

Police now say that an explosion that destroyed a house in Alcanar Platja on Thursday morning, killing one person and injuring several more, is also linked to the attack.

The explosion was initially thought to be caused by the accidental explosion of a gas bottle.

The remains of a house in Alcanar, where one person died in an explosion police say was linked to the attack on Barcelona.

The remains of a house in Alcanar, where one person died in an explosion police say was linked to the attack on Barcelona.
Photograph: Jaume Sellart/EPA

Four suspects killed, one injured

A spokeswoman for the Catalan police has confirmed that officers shot dead four alleged perpetrators and injured one more during the counter-terror raid in Cambrils.

Video from the town of Cambrils appears to show the bodies of three people on the ground near the port area. It’s still not clear how many have been killed or injured in the police operation.

Emergency services say the situation in Cambrils is “exceptional” and ask people in the town to be patient. Some roads are closed, they say. People are asked to remain indoors.

Catalan police have now tweeted their earlier message in English.

They have still not yet confirmed how many “perpetrators” were involved or shot dead.

They say the shootings were linked to a suspected imminent terror attack in the town.

La Vanguardia is reporting that four suspected terrorists have been killed by police (though this number has not been officially confirmed). It also has video of what appears to be shots being fired in the town and people hiding on the beach.

If correct, that would make five people killed by police in the past few hours. Another person was shot after driving through a police checkpoint, but officials later said the dead person had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks.

Carles Puigdemont‏, the Catalan president, has thanked the police involved in the Cambrils operation “in these critical and tragic hours”.

The small coastal town of Cambrils, where police have killed an unknown number of suspects during a counter-terrorism raid after today’s Barcelona van attack, is a popular tourist destination for Spanish holidaymakers on Catalonia’s Costa Daurada, or Gold Coast.

A port city with a population of 33,000, Cambrils is around 120km from Barcelona. Its city website describes it as “the beginning and end” of a number of popular tourist routes, in an area already dense with attractions. The town is 12km from the international Reus airport, and 10km from PortAventura World, which is the most popular theme park in Spain, with 4 million annual visitors.

Known as the food capital of the Costa Daurada, Cambrils has two Michelin-starred restaurants and 7km of beaches around a central port.

Barcelona map

Police have not confirmed how many suspects were killed in Cambrils. Spanish media reports are saying four or five, but this has not been confirmed.

There are also reports that a number of police officers were injured during the operation.

It is still not clear how the Cambrils counter-terror raid is linked to the earlier attack in Barcelona.

Suspects killed in Cambrils

Police say they have killed “perpetrators” during the counter-terror raid in Cambrils.

Roger Rovira, a journalist with TV3, is in Vic, 80km away from Barcelona, where a second van – presumed to be a getaway vehicle – that had been hired at the same time from the Telefurgo rental company in Sabadell, was found.

Rovira says police officers are attempting to open the van, but have sent in robots to check it, presumably for explosives. Journalists and others have been warned to stay back.

Police in Barcelona are removing the van used in the attack on Las Ramblas:

The Australian foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, said one woman, believed to be from New South Wales, is in a serious but stable condition and two young Australian men who were ‘directly affected’ by the fatal van attack in Spain would seek medical help in the morning.

Bishop urged all Australians in the area to contact consular authorities to let them know they are safe.

Three Australians injured in Barcelona terror attack, says Julie Bishop

Police involved in the Cambrils operation are warning of a “possible terror attack”.

Officials are tweeting in Catalan and English – the town is a coastal one and close to tourist resorts.

Police have confirmed that the investigation ongoing in the town of Cambrils is a counter-terror operation.

People there have been advised to stay inside and not share unverified information.

Details are emerging of those killed and injured in the attack, although, as expected, there is not yet a clear picture and no casualties have yet been named.

Joaquim Forn, the regional interior minister, said at least 13 people had died and around 100 more were injured.

Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders has confirmed that a Belgian woman was among those killed.

The Netherlands foreign ministry said three Dutch citizens had been injured but were “in contact with their relatives”:

They are out of danger and have been taken to a hospital.

A Greek official said three nationals had been injured, a woman and her two children.

At least one Australian has been injured. Foreign minister Julie Bishop said the woman was in a “serious but stable” condition in hospital.

This is Claire Phipps picking up the live blog.

Mossos, the Catalonian police force, has said it is currently carrying out an operation in Cambrils, a coastal town around 120km from Barcelona.

Officials are advising people in Cambrils to “stay home, stay safe”.

Driver in Barcelona van attack still on the run

The driver of a van that rammed into a packed street in Barcelona, is still on the run, Spanish police confirmed. There has been confusion on the driver’s whereabouts following two arrests.

Josep Lluís Trapero of the regional police of Catalonia, said one of the suspects arrested over the attack is a man born in the Spanish territory of Melilla in northern Morocco. The other, Driss Oukabir, is Moroccan.

The Spanish suspect was arrested in Alcanar, while Oukabir was held in Ripoll in northern Catalonia. Neither of them had any criminal record, he added.

Trapero also confirmed that police suspect a deadly explosion late Wednesday at a house in Alcanar was linked to the van attack.

Trapero said the explosion left at least one person dead, and police suspected those in the house were “preparing an explosive device.”

“It seems there was an accumulation of gas that generated the explosion,” he said, without giving further details.

Updated

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy said the van attack was “jihadist terrorism” which required a global response.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy speaks during a press conference after a meeting following the attack of Barcelona on August 17, 2017, when a van ploughed into the crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring around 100 others on the Rambla in Barcelona. A driver deliberately rammed a van into a crowd on Barcelona’s most popular street on August 17, 2017 killing at least 13 people before fleeing to a nearby bar, police said. Officers in Spain’s second-largest city said the ramming on Las Ramblas was a “terrorist attack”. The driver of a van that mowed into a packed street in Barcelona is still on the run, Spanish police said / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENELLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images

Mariano Rajoy speaks during a press conference.

Photograph: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

“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 said during a news conference in Barcelona.

He said he would call on other Spanish political parties to reaffirm the country’s anti-terrorism pact.

We have a bit more on the detained suspects. As mentioned before, neither of the men are the driver of the van involved in the attack.

The arrests of a Spanish national from Melilla and a Moroccan were made in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll and in Alcanar, the site of an explosion, which killed one person and is being potentially linked to the van attack, authorities said.

The whereabouts of the van driver remains unclear after police said he made off on foot and was not believed to be armed.

There were also reports that detectives believe two vans were used, one for the attack and a second as a getaway vehicle.

Hours after Thursday’s attack, police shot and killed a man who was in a car that hit two officers at a traffic blockade on the outskirts of Barcelona. However, senior police official Josep Lluis Trapero said it was not linked to the van attack.

Updated

There has been a lot more reaction from high-profile figures and organisations, voicing their support for the Barcelona victims.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “My thoughts are with those killed and injured, and the emergency services working to save lives.”

Barcelona FC said it was “deeply saddened” by the attack, while their rivals Real Madrid expressed “solidarity with the victims and their families and friends”.

Former England striker Gary Lineker, who played for Barcelona for three seasons from 1986-89, tweeted: “Deeply saddened to hear about the attack in the wonderful city of Barcelona.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, a former Barcelona midfielder and coach, said: “All at MCFC are saddened to hear of the attack in the City of Barcelona. Our thoughts are with all affected and the emergency services.”

Spanish tennis champion Rafael Nadal, whose uncle Miguel Angel Nadal used to play for Barcelona, said: “Shattered by what has happened in Barcelona! All my support for the families affected and the city.”

Former US president Barack Obama tweeted: “Michelle and I are thinking of the victims and their families in Barcelona.”

Former presidential candidate and secretary of state Hillary Clinton posted: “We stand together against terrorism wherever it strikes.”

Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester city council, said:

Our hearts go out to Barcelona in the wake of this sickening incident. Manchester stands in solidarity with that great city. We know from recent experience both how devastating this sort of attack is and how important international solidarity, community spirit and a refusal to give in to terror are in dealing with its aftermath.

Updated

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy cancelled his holiday in Galicia, north-west Spain, to return to Madrid.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (C) speaks during a meeting following the attack of Barcelona where a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 80 on the Rambla in Barcelona, on August 17, 2017. A driver deliberately rammed a van into a crowd on Barcelona’s most popular street on August 17, 2017 killing at least 13 people before fleeing to a nearby bar, police said. Officers in Spain’s second-largest city said the ramming on Las Ramblas was a “terrorist attack”. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENELLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy speaks during a meeting following the attack of Barcelona.

Photograph: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Van driver escaped on foot following attack

Senior police official Josep Lluis Trapero said the attack van drove on to the pavement, swerving among pedestrians in a crowded area, and was “clearly a terror attack intended to kill as many people as possible”.

He said the van driver made off on foot and was not believed to be armed.

Local media said police were hunting a suspect named Driss Oukabir, after the passport of a Spanish citizen, of Moroccan origin, was found at the scene.

Later it was reported that Oukabir has denied being involved in the attack and told police his documents had been stolen.

Two suspects are in custody but neither are the van driver, Catalan authorities said.

Updated

The Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has just given a press conference.

One Australian women, from New South Wales, is in hospital in a “serious but stable condition”.

Two other young men from Melbourne had been “directly affected” but had returned to their hotel rooms. She said there were “multiple nationalities” among those killed and injured.

She urged tourists to stay in their hotel rooms, as the situation was still evolving, and contact consular staff to let them know they were safe.

Three German citizens are reportedly among the dead

At least three German citizens were among those who died during the Barcelona attack, according to a report by broadcaster ZDF which cited security sources.

The Australian government is concerned that Australians may have been caught up in the terror attack in Barcelona.

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne says they are “concerned” Australians may be involved. Some reports are saying two may be injured, but there is nothing official yet.

The federal government has marshalled its officials in Spain to seek out Australians in the city of Barcelona after a terror attack.

“We are concerned that Australians may be involved and the embassy there in Madrid and the consulates that are available are searching for the Australians in Barcelona,” cabinet minister Christopher Pyne told Nine Network on Friday.

“The government wants any Australians in the city to let people know they are safe – either through Facebook, by calling relatives or contacting the consulate in Spain.”

An Australian tourist has told of the horror that unfolded moments after the van ploughed into crowds. Susan McLean, who was about 100m from the scene and was separated from her husband in the panic, told Nine Network:

All of a sudden there was this tidal wave of people running from both Placa de Catalunya and Las Ramblas towards us screaming, crying and with absolute terror etched on their faces.

Initially we couldn’t hear anything other than all these people running towards us. Several of them were calling ‘gun, gun’, so first of all we thought someone had been shot.

Then they just kept sort of – it was all in Spanish. It was very difficult to understand but they were sort of pushing us into shops.

That was quite scary because I wasn’t sure where he was but the shopkeepers were great. They pulled everyone inside and put the shutters down.

My first reaction was the Bourke Street massacre, because that is what it reminded me of, the vision of people fleeing in just such terror.

Another tourist, Julia Monaco from Melbourne told Nine police on the scene suddenly ordered her and her family inside a shop just across from where the attack happened.

In a split second it all kind of changed and everyone just started running and panicking and running for their lives and crying and screaming and we were forced back into the store, told to get away from the windows and to get low on the ground.

We were huddled at the very back of the store lying flat on if floor and were in that position for about 20 minutes with no real understanding of what was happening other than it was incredibly serious.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has tweeted his condolences. He said: “Our love & prayers are with the victims.”

My colleague, Julian Borger, has more on the house explosion:

Police officials have suggested there could be a connection between the Barcelona attack and two explosions earlier in the day in a house in Alcanar, a small town in Tarragona about 100km south of Barcelona, in which one person died and 16 people were injured, including police and firefighters who were investigating the first explosion and were hit by a second blast. The explosions had initially been reported as gas explosions.

Read the full story on the terror attack here:

This is a photograph of the house in Alcanar, Catalonia, which was destroyed by an explosion. Police are now investigating a link between the incident and today’s terror attack.

One dead an seven injured in a gas leak explosion in a squattered houseepa06148302 General view of the debris of a house after it completely collapsed after a gas leak explosion in a real state in the village of Alcanar, Catalonia, northeastern Spain, 17 August 2017. One person has died and seven others were injured in the explosion. In the squattered house, the firefighters found some 20 gas cylinders. Several other houses were affected by the explosion. EPA/JAUME SELLART

Firefighters found about 20 gas cylinders in the house after it exploded. One person was killed.

Photograph: Jaume Sellart/EPA

Neither of the two detained suspects was the driver of the van that crashed into pedestrians in Barcelona, police have said.

Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police officer, said the two suspects in custody were directly linked to the attack, “but that doesn’t mean that either were the author of the attack”.

The whereabouts of the driver of the van was unclear.

The two suspects in custody are a Spanish national from Melilla and a Moroccan.

Catalonian police are now connecting the Las Ramblas van attack with an explosion this morning in Alcanar, a small town in Tarragona about 100km south of Barcelona, in which one person died and several injured, which was reported earlier as a gas explosion

The explosion happened in a house, a Catalan police official said.

My colleagues, Stephen Burgen in Barcelona, Giles Tremlett in Madrid and Ian Cobain in London, have spoken to a number of witnesses.

Tom Markwell, from New Orleans, had just arrived in a taxi when he heard the screaming. “It sounded like they were screaming for a movie star,” he said. “Then I saw the van. It had already been busted on the front. It was weaving left and right, trying to hit people as fast as possible. There were people lying on the ground.”

Liam Searle said: “I was very, very close to it. It was like 10ft from me. I luckily wasn’t on the Ramblas, I was in the road, and I quickly ran into, I think it was the opera house, along with everyone else.

“Everyone was hiding behind things. And no one had a clue what was going on. We just heard a load of bangs and some other things and then, like, everyone just ran.”

Read more here:

Updated

Reports have emerged suggesting that Driss Oukabir had handed himself into police after seeing his photograph being circulated online and in the media.

He apparently told officers that his identification documents had been stolen before the attack and that he had played no part in it.

There is no official confirmation on this from the authorities, however.

Theresa May has released a longer statement, saying the Foreign Office is in close contact with the authorities in Spain.

I am sickened by the senseless loss of life in Barcelona today.

The Foreign Office is working to establish if any British nationals were involved in this appalling incident and we are in close contact with the authorities in Spain, who have our full support.

Following the attacks in Manchester and London, Spain stood alongside the British people. Tonight, Britain stands with Spain against the evil of terrorism.

Updated

Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, has declared three days of mourning for the region. He said:

Catalonia has been, and will be, a land of peace. A place of welcome. And we will not let a minority end our way of being that has been forged over centuries.

Tomorrow at noon people will gather in Plaça de Catalunya for a minute’s silence.

Updated

If you’ve been affected by the terror attack in Barcelona, you can share your experiences with us.

You can share your eyewitness accounts, photos and videos or news tips in the aricle below. You can also share your stories, photos and videos with the Guardian via WhatsApp by adding the contact +44(0)7867825056.

We’ll use a selection of responses in our reporting.

  • Please think about your security first when recording and sharing your content and follow the advice of local authoritie

My colleague, Sam Jones, has this on the only named suspect:

Driss Oukabir, taken from his Facebook page

Driss Oukabir, taken from his Facebook page.

Photograph: Facebook

Within hours of the attack in Barcelona, Spanish police had begun investigating Driss Oukabir, a 28-year-old man who was born in Morocco. He is thought to be the first person arrested in connection with the atrocity.

Reports suggested that Oukabir hired the white Fiat van used in the attack from a rental company in a town around 25km (15 miles) from the centre of Barcelona.

According to Oukabir’s Facebook page, which was later taken down, he had lived in the French city of Marseilles but moved to the Catalonian town of Ripoll. Police sources said that he has a NIE – the identity card issued to foreigners who live in Spain.

The Spanish newspaper ABC reported that although a warrant had been issued for his arrest over allegations of domestic abuse, police did not suspect him of any jihadi activity. El País said he had spent time in prison in Figueres, Catalonia, and had been released in 2012.

Read the full story here:

Updated

The number of those seriously injured in the van attack has risen to 15, according to Catalonian police. The Press Association is reporting that more than 80 people have been injured. The total number of fatalities remains at 13.

Updated

A Belgian national is among the dead

One of the victims of the attack is a Belgian national, Belgium’s deputy prime minister Didier Reynders confirmed on Twitter.

Prominent lawyer and University of Glasgow rector Aamer Anwar was walking in Las Ramblas when he heard a crashing noise followed by screaming.

He said the police were very quickly on the scene following the attack.

Aamer Anwar receives death threatsFile photo dated 31/2/2016 of prominent human-rights lawyer Aamer Anwar who aid he has received death threats after calling for unity within Scotland’s Muslim community. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday April 3, 2016. Anwar said he was taking the threats from “fanatics” extremely seriously and had contacted police, who were investigating. See PA story POLICE Anwar. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Aamer Anwar, pictured in 2016.
Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Anwar said:

I had been to the cathedral and was walking down Las Ramblas for something to eat. Part of it was in the shade so I decided to keep walking down and literally within 10 seconds there was a crashing noise. I turned around and people were screaming. I could see a woman screaming with her kids. People started running and jumping into shops. I ran for about 50 or 100 metres and stopped to see what was happening.

The police were very quickly on the scene and getting people to move back. I could see chaos right at the top area and I spoke to a shopkeeper who had run down and was screaming. He was Bengali so I spoke to him in Urdu and he said a van had driven into a crowd and he thought there were five to six people very seriously injured.

[The police] seemed to be looking for someone. They were going very carefully, very cautiously, stall to stall.

Updated

A second van linked to the attack has been found in the small town of Vic in Catalonia, authorities there have said.

A second van linked to the attack has been found in the small town of Vic in Catalonia, local authorities there have said.

Updated

Islamic State claims responsibility

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Barcelona attack, the group’s Amaq propaganda news agency said.

“The perpetrators of the Barcelona attack are soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting coalition states,” the agency said, referring to a United States-led coalition against the Sunni militant group.

Isis claims of responsibility are unreliable, and do not necessarily indicate a direct connection between the attacker or attackers and the terror group.

Updated

The centre of Barcelona remains in lockdown. Crowds of onlookers have gathered at the police tapes that cordon off a large area of the city around Las Ramblas and Plaça de Catalunya.

But most residents have stayed at home, busy checking up on friends and family. Aside from the clatter of a helicopter overhead the streets of this normally lively and noisy city are empty.

Rebeca, who works in the Hotel Lloret, said:

It’s tragic, I saw people on the ground who had been run over and other people running and crying. The van drove down the centre running over everyone. We can’t go out now and our guests are scared and crying because they don’t know where their relatives are.

Albert Tort, 47, a nurse who lives in Las Ramblas, said he witnessed the attack.

The police wouldn’t let me through until I identified myself as a health worker. What I saw was a total disaster. I saw at least six people dead and I tried to revive a young man but it was impossible.

Ellen Vercamm, who is on holiday in the city, said:

We were just outside the Hard Rock Café on our way to the Rambla when we saw a white van crashing into people. It threw people into the air.

Meanwhile Felipe VI, the Spanish king, tweeted: “All of Spain is Barcelona. Las Ramblas will be for everyone once again.”

Updated

Two people have been arrested

Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, says there have been two arrests after Barcelona van attack.

Updated

People check their smartphones in a bar behind an iron curtain as they wait after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 50 on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017. A driver deliberately rammed a van into a crowd on Barcelona’s most popular street on August 17, 2017 killing at least 13 people before fleeing to a nearby bar, police said. Officers in Spain’s second-largest city said the ramming on Las Ramblas was a “terrorist attack” and a police source said one suspect had left the scene and was “holed up in a bar”. The police source said they were hunting for a total of two suspects. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENELLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images

People check their smartphones in a bar behind a shutter following the attack.

Photograph: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images
People flee from the scene after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district of Barcelona, Spain, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017. According to witnesses the white van swerved from side to side as it plowed into tourists and residents. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

People flee from the scene.

Photograph: Giannis Papanikos/AP
Van plowed into the crowd in BarcelonaBARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 17: People are seen as security measures are taken at the area after a van plowed into the crowd, injuring several people in Barcelona, Spain on August 17, 2017. (Photo by Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Police help a resident leave the area.
Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Van Hits Crowds In Barcelona’s Las RamblasBARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 17: People look toward the scene of a terrorist attack in the Las Ramblas area on August 17, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. Officials say 13 people are confirmed dead and at least 50 injured after a van plowed into people in the Las Ramblas area of the city. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

People look toward the scene of a terrorist attack in the Las Ramblas area.

Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Donald Trump responded to the Barcelona attack by reviving an already debunked anecdote about a US general dipping bullets in pig’s blood to fight Islamic militants over a hundred years ago.

After a relatively conventional response to the attack in which he went on to Twitter to call on the people of Barcelona to be “tough and strong” and offer US help, he posted another, more cryptic tweet 45 minutes later saying: “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”

The tweet echoed a highly dubious claim Trump made at an election rally in South Carolina in February 2016, in which he talked admiringly about a counter-insurgency in the Philippines conducted by General John Pershing between 1909 and 1913, when he was governor of Moro province.

He said at the rally:

They were having terrorism problems, just like we do. And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood — you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem.

This account of Pershing’s actions has circulated on the internet since 2001, but US historians say there is very little if any evidence to support it.

Updated

What we know so far about the Las Ramblas terror attack

  • A white Fiat van was deliberately driven into pedestrians on one of Barcelona’s most popular boulevards late on Thursday afternoon, killing 13 people in what Spanish police called a “terrorist attack”.
  • Thirteen people have been killed, and at least 50 injured, Catalonia’s interior minister Joaquim Forn has confirmed.
  • According to early reports, the vehicle sped down the centre of the 1km-long road, which is usually packed with people, until it hit a newspaper kiosk and stopped.
  • Television pictures showed people lying on the ground and a crashed van that had stopped on top of a Joan Míro mosaic halfway down Las Ramblas, an area which is very popular with tourists.
  • Witnesses described scenes of chaos and panic as hundreds of people tried to flee.
  • Around 80 people sheltered in a church near the incident, while others hid in shops and restaurants.
  • Police in the Spanish region of Catalonia where Barcelona is located said on Twitter they have arrested one man.
  • Spanish police have released a photograph of the man alleged to have rented the van used in the attack. He is identified as Driss Oukabir.
  • Initially, there were reports that one suspect had fled to a nearby bar, but this was later denied.
  • One witness told Spain’s TVE television he saw the suspect when the van stopped. “It was a person in their 20s, he is very young, brown hair, a slim face.”
  • Emergency services quickly arrived on the scene and cordoned off the area, with several ambulances and police vehicles responding.
  • The city also closed down metro stations in the area, with authorities telling people to stay away from the area.
  • The prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, cancelled his holiday in Galicia, north-west Spain, to return to Madrid. He tweeted that he was in contact with the local authorities, saying the priority was to help the victims and facilitate the work of security forces.
  • World leaders have condemned the attack and sent condolences to the victims. Theresa May said: “The UK stands with Spain against terror.”
  • Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, said he is doing all he can to identify whether any British people need help in Barcelona.

If you witnessed the attack in Las Ramblas, or have been affected by it, you can share your experiences with us.

You can share eyewitness accounts, photos and videos or news tips via GuardianWitness or via WhatsApp by adding the contact +44(0)7867825056. You can also email: carmen.fishwick@theguardian.com

We’ll use a selection of responses in our reporting.

Please think about your security first when recording and sharing your content and follow the advice of local authorities.

Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel react to the attack

French president Emmanuel Macron has voiced solidarity with Spain.

“We remain united and determined,” he said on Twitter, describing it as a “tragic attack”.

He later tweeted in Spanish: “Solidarity with Barcelona. We are by your side.”

The office of German chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the “revolting attack” in Barcelona.

Her spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a tweet: “We are thinking with profound sadness of the victims of the revolting attack in Barcelona – with solidarity and frienship alongside the Spanish people.”

Updated

Jason Burke has written a snap analysis on the events in Barcelona, focusing on how painfully familiar the nature of the attack is.

… The use of vehicles as weapons is now an established tactic by extremists, one of the dozen or so employed in the last two decades that should be considered a standard part of the terrorist arsenal. In the past 13 months, there have been similar attacks in France, Germany, Sweden and the UK.

A woman was killed by a car driven at speed by a rightwing extremist in the US last week in slightly different circumstances.

The precise motivation and the identity of the Barcelona attackers will become clear in the next few hours. So far there has been no claim of responsibility from Islamic State. These can take between eight and 48 hours, if they come at all. In recent months, such claims have become highly unreliable. Individuals close to Isis and active on social media have been celebrating the Barcelona attack, but this does not indicate a connection to the group.

Tactics spread among militants when they are seen to work. There is no skill needed to drive a vehicle into a crowd, nor any difficulty involved in obtaining one. This makes a car, van or lorry an ideal weapon for today’s terrorists, who are often inspired by a group but are not actually part of it, and for the most part, lack the training and means necessary for more complex attacks.

Read the full article here:

Updated

Police release image of suspect

Spanish police have released a photograph of the man alleged to have rented the van used in the attack. He is identified as Driss Oukabir.

A handout photo made available by Spanish National Police shows Driss Oukabir.

A handout photo made available by Spanish National Police shows Driss Oukabir.
Photograph: Spanish National Police/EPA

It is not clear if it is the same person who has been arrested in Vic.

Updated

Facebook has activated its safety check tool to enable people in Barcelona to let their friends and relatives know they are safe.

More 1,000 people have also used the service to volunteer to help the victims, with offers ranging from water to shelter and translation.

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Theresa May sends condolences to Spain

Theresa May said the UK “stands with Spain against terror” following the deadly attack in Barcelona.

The prime minister condemned the “terrible” assault, which follows a spate of similar attacks in London in recent months.

She said:

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.

Official death toll is now 13

Thirteen people have been killed, and at least 50 injured, Catalonia’s interior minister Joaquim Forn has confirmed.

Updated

Catalan police confirm arrest

A man has been arrested in connection with the van attack, local police confirmed on Thursday evening.

In a tweet, the police also dismissed reports that a suspect had holed himself up in a bar off Las Ramblas.

Witnesses in central Barcelona described a scene of “total chaos” in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

Patrick Tuenter, 20, a law student from Nijmegen, Netherlands, was on the first day of his holiday.

Our hotel, the Pension Solarium, is about 200metres from the scene of the crash. We were coming back from the beach and saw a scene of total chaos. People were screaming, there were a lot of wounded people. We saw a white van stopped in the middle of the street – the part where pedestrians walk down. It had driven right down the middle and thrown people onto the cobbled part of the street, down the sides.

Jesse Matenan, 20, also a student from Nijmegen described the rumours flying around the hotel as people try to work out what is happening.

As we walked back to our hotel we saw and heard ambulances and police cars rushing by – over 30 of them within minutes. We saw lots of injured people fleeing the scene. We’re now hearing rumours that there was a second van which got away and is driving round with two people in it.

Updated

Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, has tweeted about the attacks. He said he is doing all he can to identify whether any British people need help in Barcelona.

The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice for UK citizens in Barcelona, warning them to avoid the area.

“We are in contact with the Spanish authorities and seeking more information following an incident in Barcelona. Anyone in the area should follow the advice of the emergency services,” an FCO spokesperson said.

On the travel advice page for Spain on the FCO website, the updated advice says:

The British Embassy in Madrid and Consulate General in Barcelona are in contact with local authorities and urgently seeking further information following reports of an incident in central Barcelona.

Local authorities have advised people to stay inside and stay away from the Las Ramblas area of the city. If you’re in the immediate area you should take care and follow the advice of the local security authorities; press reports suggest that some public transport, particularly the metro, has been affected.

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Donald Trump condemns the terror attack

Donald Trump has condemned the terror attack on Las Ramblas:

The first lady has also sent a tweet:

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An eyewitness has described the painstaking search for suspects.

John Ward, who lives on Las Ramblas, says the area is still on lockdown.

He told the BBC:

There’s a very heavy police presence and what they’ve been doing is going from establishment to establishment knocking on the doors, knocking on the shutters.

People have opened the shutters, they’ve been brought out on to the street and once it’s been established that they’re not the people they are looking for, they’ve been escorted away from this particular area.

Now nobody is moving on La Ramblas unless they’re under police escort.

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Reports of arrest and identification of suspect

Local media is reporting that one person has been arrested in relation to the attack.

Separate reports said the Guardia Civil have identified the suspect thought to have hired the white Fiat van used in the attack. According to those reports, he is understood to be from north Africa but to possess an NIE, the identity document issued to foreigners who are resident in Spain.

It is not clear whether the reports referred to the same person.

A second van linked to the attack – assumed to have been used as a getaway car – has been found in the small town of Vic in Catalonia.

Updated

Here’s another shot of the crashed van, taken from a video posted online.

Screengrabs of the van in La Ramblas, Barcelona

The van which is thought to be the one involved in the attack.
Photograph: Ignacio Sanabria.

The official death toll for the van attack still stands at one, although local media are reporting that as many as 13 could be dead. Police say 32 people have been injured, 10 of them seriously.

Catalonia’s interior minister Joaquim Forn told reporters: “Unfortunately the number of fatalities will likely rise.”

Updated

One suspect arrested, according to Spanish broadcaster

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE says one suspect in the Barcelona van attack has been arrested.

Updated

The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has offered his condolences for the loss of life in Barcelona. He also warned terrorists they would be brought to justice in the wake of the Las Ramblas attack.

Terrorists around the world should know, the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice.

Tillerson, who was speaking at a press conference, also urged US nationals in the city to check in with their families.

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The attack took place in central Barcelona. Las Ramblas, a street of stalls and shops that cuts 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.

A map showing where the attack happened in central Barcelona and the direction of the van was travelling in.

A map showing where the attack happened in central Barcelona and the direction of the van was travelling in.

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A video posted to social media shows more than 12 injured people lying on the ground next to souvenir shops in front of Maccabi restaurant in Las Ramblas.

As well as uniformed emergency service personnel, a number of people dressed casually in shorts and t-shirts can be seen offering help and tending to the wounded.

This image taken from Googlemaps shows Maccabi restaurant close to where

This image taken from Googlemaps shows Maccabi restaurant close to where
Photograph: Googlemap

Updated

Despite an appeal by Spanish police not to circulate images of those injured in the attack, there have been some graphic videos and images posted to social media this evening, as well as video that appears to depict the movements of armed police as they search for suspects.

Residents of Barcelona, and social media users from further afield, have tried to combat the spread of these images with a seemingly bizarre tactic – flooding the #barcelona hashtag with images of cute kittens.

It was a tactic employed by Belgian social media users in 2015. Police there asked citizens not to tweet about armed counter-terror operations being carried out around the country, and told people to stay indoors and not go near windows. Belgians reacted by using the #BrusselsLockdown hashtag to share pictures of their pets and make jokes.

Social media reactions like this can often seem glib and superficial in the face of the events that have sparked them, but academics have argued that they can play a role in dealing with collective national trauma.

Updated

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has tweeted his condolences.

He said: “My thoughts are with the victims of this barbaric terrorist attack in the great city of Barcelona and with their brave emergency services.”

He added that London stands with Barcelona.

Witnesses to the attack in Barcelona described how a white van hurtled through crowds without slowing down.

Many were forced to take shelter in nearby shops and hotels, while others reported hearing gunshots.

Tom Gueller, who lives on a road adjoining the site of the attack, was forced to flee when the vehicle began hitting pedestrians.

He told BBC’s PM:

I heard screams and a bit of a crash and then I just saw the crowd parting and this van going full pelt down the middle of the Ramblas, and I immediately knew that it was a terrorist attack or something like that. I ran away, I mean I live near, I had to run back about 50 metres or so and go up to my flat and obviously see what’s happening on the road from my balcony.

Asked about the van, he said: “It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds in the middle of Las Ramblas.”

Will Ako, 26, from London, was eating in a restaurant called Taller De Tapas with his family when they heard a disturbance.

He told Press Association:

We had just finished eating and were about to leave when we heard a commotion and the patrons in the restaurant rushing from their seats. I then saw people running to the east of the restaurant and I saw a couple of people, about 30 yards down the road, crouching around what looked like someone on the ground and they were calling for assistance. Within a couple of minutes, police started to arrive and they were running west of the restaurant and some were telling us to stay inside. Soon after, loads of cars, bikes and ambulances arrived and then the armed police.

He said he was in the restaurant with around 40 people, adding: “We’re not sure what’s happening.”

Screengrabs of the van in La Ramblas, Barcelona.

Screengrabs of the van in La Ramblas, Barcelona.
Photograph: Ignacio Sanabria.

Updated

For now we don’t know who was responsible for the attack, nor what the motive was.

However, we do know that the use of vehicles to drive into civilians is a mode of attack hugely difficult to stop.

Atrocities involving vehicle attacks have been carried out in France, Germany and Britain. Such vehicle attacks generally require very little planning, and no wider network, leaving little or no opportunity for the authorities to detect and stop them.

Las Ramblas was full of people, is largely or wholly open, with few obstacles to block the path of any vehicle.

Options to make a vehicle attack harder include making renting vehicles harder and placing barriers to limit how far an attacker could drive as they mow civilians down.

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Police press conference: one dead and 32 injured

Police have confirmed that one person has died and that 32 people have been injured, 10 of them seriously.

There has been some confusion, as is typical in these situations, about the number of fatalities. Local media outlets are reporting that 13 have died, citing police sources. Other media, including El Pais, are saying there were at least 10 deaths.

Updated

In a tweet, Catalan police confirmed they were dealing with a terrorist attack.

“Terrorist attack confirmed,” they said. “The terrorist attack protocol has been activated.”

TV3 says it now has “official” confirmation that 13 people are dead. It also says there are dozens of injured.

Eyewitness Lourdes Porcar told TV3 television station that she saw the van running people over. “It was going very fast, without caring about who was in its way,” she said.

Police have set up roadblocks around the city amid reports that a second van was involved in the attack and fled the scene.

There are also reports that at least one attacker is holed up in a Turkish restaurant on Carrer Hospital, which leads off from the spot in which the van appears to have come to a halt.

Television pictures show that a van came to a halt on top of a Joan Miro mosaic, half-way down Las Ramblas – meaning it would have covered more than 500 metres.

Updated

The first pictures of the crashed van are appearing online.

The van thought to be the one involved in the attack.

The van thought to be the one involved in the attack.
Photograph: Twitter

Updated

Death toll at 13 – unconfirmed Spanish media reports

Spanish radio station Cadena Ser radio is reporting that at least 13 people have died in the Barcelona incident, citing police sources. Spanish police have not given an official toll.

Updated

Aamer Anwar, civil rights lawyer and rector of Glasgow University, was on the Ramblas when the attack happened and ran for his life.

He saw scenes of terror after the attack:

It was jam packed with tourists, it was a beautiful sunny day. I heard a noise, a crashing noise. At the same time there were screams and people started to run. It was like an avalanche of people running, in front and behind me. People were jumping into shops, pulling their children out of prams. There was no room [on the Ramblas], it was swamped with families, children, and tourists. I saw a woman running, when we stopped she was screaming, because she could not see her children. Within 30 seconds I could see police officers with guns. One man told me there were five or six people seriously injured.

Anwar said 80 minutes after the incident, ambulances were still arriving at the scene. He was in Barcelona to speak at a conference on Catalan independence, being held this weekend.

TV3 is reporting that “up to” six people are dead, but does not name its sources. The spokeswoman for a chain of 10 restaurants in the area said that some 600 people were stuck inside their restaurants, waiting for permission from the police to leave.

Those people may be having trouble communicating with friends because mobile phone coverage in the area is saturated.

Local police say they still do not know the motivation for the attack, but are treating it as terrorism. The Cadena Ser radio station reports that a Spanish identity card with an Arabic name has been found inside the van.

There are reports of police ushering people away from a Turkish restaurant by the Ramblas. There are also reports that at least one gunman is holed up in a Turkish restaurant.

Updated

The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice for UK citizens in Barcelona, telling them to avoid Las Ramblas.
“We are in contact with the Spanish authorities and seeking more information following an incident in Barcelona. Anyone in the area should follow the advice of the emergency services,” an FCO spokesperson said.
On the travel advice page for Spain on the FCO website, the updated advice says:

The British embassy in Madrid and consulate general in Barcelona are in contact with local authorities and urgently seeking further information following reports of an incident in central Barcelona.

Local authorities have advised people to stay inside and stay away from the Las Ramblas area of the city. If you’re in the immediate area you should take care and follow the advice of the local security authorities; press reports suggest that some public transport, particularly the metro, has been affected.

Updated

Police confirm there are fatalities in the Barcelona van attack

Spanish police have confirmed that an unknown number of people have died in the incident in Las Ramblas.

Local media have given various, unconfirmed tolls for the dead and injured.

The police have tweeted that there has been no exchange of gunfire in the department store El Corte Inglés and called on people to follow official sources for information.

Injured people are treated in Barcelona.

Injured people are treated in Barcelona.
Photograph: Oriol Duran/AP

Updated

The Spanish emergency services have told people in the area of Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona to stay where they are until told by police that they can leave.

A producer at Sky News is at the scene on Las Ramblas and sent this dispatch:

Sky producer Mike Mawhinney said:

All around Las Ramblas, about three blocks off it, the streets are being completely locked off, people pushed back.

They’re searching the area for anything else, so obviously there’s the story you just mentioned about the restaurant, obviously a possible development.

When I arrived on the scene I saw two wounded people lying on the pavement, one was getting picked up and put on to a stretcher and lowered on to the ambulance and stretchered out, that looked quite serious.

The other seemed to be OK and was moving and later was being loaded up on to an ambulance and taken out.

Everybody’s been thrown into buildings, locked in, everyone’s told to get off the street. They pushed everybody back at least three blocks off the Las Ramblas as they were searching the area.

There were armed teams, undercover police and the flying squad guys clearing the streets and trying to take control of the situation.

Obviously everybody’s a little bit jittery due to the circumstances and thinking about secondary devices or whatever else may happen after the main event.

From what I understand from one eyewitness, the vehicle entered Las Ramblas on the road side and then went on to the pedestrian side and went down the middle.

Updated

The president of the government of Catalonia has called for “maximum caution” in the wake of the attack. He added that “all the attention” should be on the victims of the attack.

Updated

Around 80 people are currently sheltering in a church in Barcelona near the incident. Witnesses say that the doors are currently locked as reports circulate that there are possibly two armed men in a bar in the local area.

The Spanish police have asked people not to circulate images of the injured out of respect for their families.

Jordi Lino, who was on a bus going down Las Ramblas, said:

First I saw people running and then the van. There were injured people in the middle of the Ramblas.

A taxi driver told TV3 that he saw people being run over by the van.

TV3 reported that at least one attacker was holed up in a Turkish restaurant called Bar Luna de Istanbul. These reports have not been confirmed by official channels.

Updated

The Ministry of the Interior said on Twitter: “There has just been a massive crash on the Ramblas in Barcelona by a person with a van. There are injured.”

Armed police arrive in a cordoned off area of Las Ramblas.

Armed police arrive in a cordoned off area of Las Ramblas.
Photograph: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images
People comfort each other in the aftermath of the attack.

People comfort each other in the aftermath of the attack.
Photograph: David Armengou/EPA
Police officers and emergency service workers set up a security perimeter near the site.

Police officers and emergency service workers set up a security perimeter near the site.
Photograph: Andreu Dalmau/EPA

Updated

Police in Barcelona have asked people around Plaça Catalunya to stay indoors. They have urged those concerned about friends and family to use social media, rather than mobile phone calls, to get in touch with friends and relatives to avoid overloading phone networks.

Updated

A witness has described seeing people lying on the ground after the crash.

Steven Turner, who works in the area, told the BBC:

People in my office saw a van ramming into people on La Ramblas. I saw about three or four people laying on the ground.

There are lots of ambulances and armed police with assault rifles around now.

About five minutes later I heard lots of screams from the crowd and then they dispersed.

Updated

Spanish PM says ‘priority is to attend to the injured’

The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, says he is in contact with all authorities following the Barcelona van crash and says the priority is to attend to the injured.

Updated

People on social media have been sharing videos of the crash on Las Ramblas, an area popular with tourists and locals. The videos appear to show people running away from cafes and restaurants.

Updated

Reports of armed men entering a restaurant

Reuters are quoting local media as saying two armed men have entered a restaurant in Barcelona after the van crash. At the moment this news is only from a single source.

Updated

Collision in Barcelona being treated as terrorist attack

A van has crashed into pedestrians on Las Ramblas in the heart of Barcelona, which attracts thousands of tourists every day.

Police have said there has been a major incident in the key tourist spot and have confirmed it is being treated as a “terrorist attack”. It is understood that police have requested that metro stations be closed.

The driver of the van is reported to have run away from the scene after the vehicle finally crashed into a newspaper kiosk.

Video which appears to be from the scene shows a white van with a badly damaged bonnet, and people lying inert on the ground.

The UK Foreign Office said it was aware of the incident but had no further comment for the moment.

Updated

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