Terror in Spain: 13 dead, 80 wounded

Terror in Spain: 13 dead, 80 wounded

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Pedro Gonzalez, Business Contributor

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility on its Aamaq news agency for an attack in Barcelona that has left 13 dead and 80 wounded, as a van plowed into a crowd in Barcelona's tourist district, Las Ramblas. Per the Associated Press, the fundamentalist group announced that the attack was carried out by "soldiers of the Islamic State."

According to United Press International, Barcelona's Mossos d'Esquadra, or Mossos Squadron, security agency said,  "A terrorist attack is confirmed. The terrorist attack protocol has been activated.”

Police and local officials report that a white Fiat van drove into a crowd, mowing scores of people over as it zigzagged down one of Barcelona's busiest tourist avenues, Catalunya Square.

Per a BBC eyewitness account, Tom Markwell from New Orleans, who had just arrived in Las Ramblas, said: "I heard a crowd screaming. It sounded like they were screaming for a movie star. 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."  

Local media outlets stated that one man has been arrested in connection with the attack, while the driver of the van that plowed into pedestrians is reported to have had fled on foot. Police have closed and evacuated the area, but have denied initial reports of gunfire and two suspected attackers barricading themselves in a bar near Catalunya Square.

Police have released a picture of a 20-year-old Moroccan man named Driss Oubakir, who is alleged to have rented the van used in the attack.

President Donald Trump responded to the attack on Twitter: "The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help."

In a separate incident, the Associated Press has reported that a driver hit two Spanish police officers in Catalonia, the suspect has been shot and killed.

These attacks comes amid growing concern regarding the European migrant crisis, as more than 8,300 illegal migrants have reached the Spanish mainland during the first seven months of 2017 — three times as many as in all of 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Thousands more have illegally migrated to Spain over land, through Ceuta and Melilla on the north coast of Morocco, the European Union’s only land borders with Africa. Once migrants reach Ceuta and Melilla, they are housed in shelters and then transported to the Spanish mainland, from where many will travel on to other parts of Europe.

Update: Per the AP, Senior police official has linked the Barcelona van attack to explosion in an apartment in Pamplona that killed one person and injured eight.

You can follow Pedro directly on Twitter: @pepe_lew

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