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Police officers block a street in Barcelona. Javier Luengo via PA Images
las ramblas

Police in Catalonia say driver in Barcelona van attack still on the run

Catalonia has declared three days of mourning for the region.

THE DRIVER OF a van that drove into a crowd of pedestrians in Barcelona today killing at least 13 people, is still on the run according to Spanish police.

Josep Lluis Trapero of the regional police of Catalonia told reporters that two people had been arrested – a Spaniard and a Moroccan - but that the driver of the van is still at large.

He added that the van attack was linked to an explosion that happened in Alcanar, Catalonia last night.

Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said a Belgian woman was among those killed in Barcelona after a van drove through the pedestrianised street Las Ramblas.

Spanish authorities said that 13 people were confirmed dead and more than 100 people were injured – warning that this “figure could climb in coming hours”.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry said in a statement that three Dutch citizens had been injured in the attack and were “in contact with their relatives”.

“They are out of danger and have been taken to a hospital,” the ministry said.

A Greek diplomat in the city said three nationals had been injured – a woman and her two children.

Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said that anyone with concerns for their loved ones in Barcelona can contact their Consular Assistance team on +353 1408 2000.

Three days of mourning have been announced for the Spanish region of Catalonia.

What happened?

Spain Barcelona People flee the scene in Barcelona. AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

At around 4pm today, a white van drove onto the popular Las Ramblas promenade and drove into crowds of pedestrians.

Shops and restaurants along the busy street reacted by taking people inside and closing shutters.

Police then cleared the areas, cordoned off the streets, suspended metro and train services in the area. People were then released from the restaurants and shops, and told to return home.

Authorities on Twitter advised people to use social media to let loved ones know they were safe to avoid collapsing the phone lines amidst an influx of phone calls.

Police response

Spain Barcelona Pedestrians Hit A police officer gestures as he blocks a street in Barcelona. Manu Fernandez via PA Images Manu Fernandez via PA Images

One of the suspects was named as Driss Oukabir – who’s thought to have owned or leased the vehicle used in the attack.

Police gave no further details about the Moroccan and Spaniard arrested today and denied earlier reports a perpetrator had been holed up in a bar. There were also false reports of a shooting incident in the minutes after the attack.

Ireland’s Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan said that An Garda Síochána will “continue to liaise closely with their Spanish counterparts… to offer whatever assistance may be needed”.

He said they would “take whatever measures are necessary to deal with the threat from terrorism”.

Similar messages of solidarity have been sent out by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU President Donald Tusk, and US President Donald Trump.

The so-called Islamic State claimed that “soldiers” from the jihadist group carried out the attack.

Spain was hit by what is still Europe’s deadliest jihadist attack in March 2004, when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people in an attack claimed by Al Qaeda-inspired extremists.

In July 2015, a hooded attacker opened fire outside a hotel in downtown Barcelona near Las Ramblas boulevard, leaving two people injured.

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

 - © AFP 2017 

Barcelona terror attack: Two arrested, at least 13 dead and 80 injured

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