Barcelona Van-Plowing Suspect Identified, Trump Condemns Terror Attack

August 17, 2017 Updated: August 17, 2017

A van plowed into crowds in the Spanish city of Barcelona on Thursday and a regional official said 13 people were killed, in what police said they were treating as a terrorist attack.

Police in Barcelona have released a picture of the man who allegedly rented the van used in the attack.

Driss Oukabir, in his 20s, was born in Morocco, according to local media.  He was arrested a few hours after the attack.

 

(Barcelona Police)
(Barcelona Police)

Witnesses saying the van zigzagged down one of Barcelona’s busiest tourist avenues, Las Ramblas, mowing down pedestrians and leaving bodies strewn across the ground.

A government official in the region of Catalonia, which includes Barcelona, said on Twitter that at least 50 people were injured.

People stand with hands up as asked by policemen after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing two persons and injuring several others on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017.  (JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand with hands up as asked by policemen after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing two persons and injuring several others on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017. (JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)
 

 

People react as they leave a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing two persons and injuring several others on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017.   (JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)
People react as they leave a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing two persons and injuring several others on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017. (JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

Eyewitness Tom Gueller told the BBC: “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.

“It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds,” he added.

 Spanish media had also reported that two armed men were holed up in a bar in downtown Barcelona, and reported gunfire in the area, However, police later dismissed those reports.
 
People help an injured woman lying on the ground after a van crashed into pedestrians near the Las Ramblas avenue in central Barcelona, Spain August 17, 2017, in this still image from a video obtained from social media. Courtesy of Carlos Tena (Gallardo/via REUTERS)
People help an injured woman lying on the ground after a van crashed into pedestrians near the Las Ramblas avenue in central Barcelona, Spain August 17, 2017, in this still image from a video obtained from social media. Courtesy of Carlos Tena (Gallardo/via REUTERS)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter: “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help.”

He added: “Be tough & strong, we love you!”

 

Mobile phone footage showed several bodies strewn along the Ramblas, some motionless. Paramedics and bystanders bent over them, treating them and trying to comfort those still conscious.

Around them, the boulevard was deserted, covered in rubbish and abandoned objects including hats, flip-flops, bags and a pram.

“We saw a white van collide with people. We saw people going flying because of the collision, we also saw three cyclists go flying,” Ellen Vercamm, on holiday in Barcelona, told El Pais newspaper.

TOURIST DRAW

Emergency services said people should not go to the area around Barcelona’s Placa de Catalunya, one of the city’s main squares at the top of the Ramblas, and requested the closure of nearby train and metro stations.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was in contact with authorities, and the priority was to attend to the injured.

The incident took place at the height of the tourist season in Barcelona, which is one of Europe’s top travel destinations with at least 11 million visitors a year.

Vehicles have been used to ram into crowds in a series of militant attacks across Europe since July 2016, killing well over 100 people in Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm.

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose nation has suffered some of Europe’s deadliest militant attacks in recent years, tweeted: “All my thoughts and France’s solidarity to the victims of the tragic attack in Barcelona.”

Witness Ethan Spibey told Britain’s Sky News: “People just started running screaming, there were loud bangs. People just started running into shops, there was a kind of mini-stampede where we were, down one of the alleyways.”

He said he had taken refuge with dozens of other people in a nearby church.

“They’ve locked the doors because I’m not sure whether the person who may have done it has actually been caught.”

Authorities in Vic, a small town outside Barcelona, said a van had been found there in connection with the attack. Spanish media had earlier reported that a second van had been hired as a getaway vehicle.

Barcelona is the capital of the wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia, which plans to hold a popular vote on Oct. 1 on whether it should secede from Spain. It is in dispute with the central government, which says the vote cannot go ahead because it is unconstitutional.

The attack was the deadliest in Spain since March 2004, when Islamist militants placed bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,800.