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'They are assassins, criminals who won't terrorise us': Leaders react to Barcelona attack

Germany has called the attack “revolting”.

Police officers asking people to leave Plaza Catalonia following the nearby attack
Police officers asking people to leave Plaza Catalonia following the nearby attack
Image: Lino De Vallier/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

SPANISH AND WORLD leaders have condemned the Barcelona terror attack, expressing outrage and solidarity with the victims.

At around 4pm yesterday, a white van drove onto the popular Las Ramblas promenade and drove into crowds of pedestrians – killing 13 people and injuring more than 100 others.

The Spanish royal family has issued a strongly-worded statement: “They are assassins, criminals who won’t terrorise us. All of Spain is Barcelona.”

FC Barcelona said it is “deeply saddened” by the tragedy and the team’s striker Lionel Messi said separately that people must reject “any act of violence”.

“There are many more of us who want to live in a world in peace, without hate and where respect and tolerance are the basis of coexistence,” he added.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is among the Irish politicians to express his condolences.

“On behalf of the government and the Irish people, I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to Prime Minister Rajoy and the people of Barcelona and Spain following this callous act.

“An attack of this nature, targeting the people of Barcelona and visitors enjoying that wonderful city in the height of the tourist season, is both wanton and cowardly and has no place in our society.

“At this time of immense grief, I want to offer our solidarity and support to the people of Spain, with whom we have such close relations,” Varadkar said.

‘Be tough and strong’ 

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: “Terrorists around the world should know — the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice.”

US President Donald 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!”

About an hour later, Trump tweeted: “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”

He was referring to General John ‘Black Jack’ Pershing who was the US governor of largely Muslim Moro province from 1909 to 1913. At the time, the Philippines was a US colony and Pershing’s forces had to fight Muslim counterinsurgencies.

The debunked account – which Trump has referred to in the past – is as follows: Pershing’s forces rounded up 50 Muslim insurgents and executed 49 of them with bullets dipped in pig’s blood – considered by Muslims to be unholy.

Four historians previously told Politifact this version of events didn’t happen.

‘Profound sadness’

In a statement, the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country was thinking of the victims of the “revolting attack” with “profound sadness”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the world to unite in an “uncompromising battle against the forces of terror”.

“We decisively condemn this cruel and cynical crime against civilians,” Putin wrote in a letter of condolences to Spanish King Felipe VI.

A spokesperson said United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres “condemns today’s terrorist attack on Barcelona” and “hopes that those responsible for this heinous violence will be swiftly brought to justice”.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “I send my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, as well as to Prime Minister Rajoy and the people of Spain. My thoughts are with the people of Barcelona.”

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French President Emmanuel Macron voiced “France’s solidarity” with Spanish citizens after the “tragic attack”.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said: “Parisians are at your side. Barcelona and Paris are cities that share love and tolerance. Our values are much stronger than this heinous and cowardly act of terrorism.”

‘Terrible attack’ 

British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement:

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.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the attack “barbaric”, adding: “London stands with Barcelona against the evil of terrorism.”

It was a “cowardly attack against innocent people”, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a statement on his Facebook page, calling it a “black day at a place where many people around the world gathered”.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the country strongly condemns the “heinous terrorist attack”.

Pope Francis’s spokesperson said in a statement: “The Pope prays for the victims of this attack and wishes to express his closeness to all the Spanish people, especially the wounded and families of the victims.”

Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, a star with Spanish premier club Real Madrid, said he was “dismayed” by the attack and voiced “support and solidarity with the families and friends of the victims”.

© AFP 2017 with reporting by Órla Ryan

Read: Irish family of four caught up in Barcelona terror attack

Read: Spanish police stop second attack as five suspects shot dead in coastal town

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