A suspected jihadist terror attack in Barcelona left 13 people dead and scores injured when a van crashed into pedestrians near the popular Las Ramblas avenue. The Las Ramblas avenue is the city’s most popular avenue with tourists, and most people were out on an afternoon stroll when the attack happened. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack immediately after but this could not be confirmed independently. Police say that the van driver escaped on foot after the carnage, while a separate attack was foiled on Thursday night when security forces killed five suspected terrorists in Cambrils, a town south of Barcelona and recovered explosive belts that were supposed to be used in the planned attack.
Six civilians and a police officer were injured in the Cambrils incident when attackers ran them over in a car before being shot dead by the police. The police later carried out controlled explosions to neutralize the explosives.
Before the van attack, a person was also killed in a town south west of Barcelona in an explosion. Police said that residents of the house were working with explosives when the incident happened.
Witnesses to the van attack at Las Ramblas spoke of the van driving at high speed through the pedestrian walk, slamming people and leaving a trail of bodies in its wake. The attack bears similarities to a string of attacks in European cities in the last 13 months, the first of which was when a truck was driven into a Bastille Day crowd in the French town of Nice. The Islamic State statement blamed the participation of Spanish troops in the international coalition that is fighting the IS in Syria and Iraq. The IS has lost most of its territory to the international coalition and the Kurd fighters and the attacks are being seen as retaliation as the IS continues to lose ground in the war.