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UPDATE: 12 Dead, 80 Hurt as Van Plows Into Pedestrians in Barcelona

Alex-Schmidt-Thinkstock
Alex-Schmidt-Thinkstock

UPDATE: BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — A senior police official in Spain’s Catalonia region says the van attack that killed 13 people in Barcelona is “connected” to an explosion the night before in a town south of the city in which one person died and injured several more.

Police Major Josep Lluis Trapero also gave the nationalities of the two suspects detained Thursday. He said during a news conference that one is Moroccan and the other is a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish city on Africa’s north coast that neighbors Morocco.

Trapero says the arrests were made in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll and in Alcanar, the site of the Wednesday night explosion. He says neither detained suspect was the driver of the van used in the fatal attack in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district.

He says the man drove the attack van down the pedestrian walkway from the top of Las Ramblas to near the city’s opera house and then set out on foot. Trepero says it doesn’t appear the driver was armed.

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UPDATE: The police force for Spain’s Catalonia region says troopers have shot and killed a man who was in a car that hit two officers at a traffic blockade in Barcelona.

The Mossos d’Esquadra force did not indicate if the incident was related to the van attack in the city’s Las Ramblas district on Thursday.

Local media reports say a white Ford Focus ran over the officers and then was intercepted by police 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) away.

That’s where troopers shot one man dead.

The president of Spain’s Catalonia region says police have arrested two people in the van attack in Barcelona’s bustling Las Ramblas district.

The lengthy Las Ramblas promenade where a van plowed into pedestrians Thursday, killing 12 people and injuring 80, is a tree-lined walkway that starts in a huge plaza and ends near Barcelona’s harbor.

It’s filled with cafes, restaurants, stalls selling everything from souvenirs to flowers, the city’s famed opera house and a baroque palace.

It stretches 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles), with a pedestrian-only walkway in the center of the avenue and vehicle traffic allowed on both sides.

Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona’s top tourist draws, a place to stroll and soak in the city’s historic charm while doing some serious people-watching.

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A white van jumped the sidewalk in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district on Thursday, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said.

In a photograph shown by public broadcaster RTVE, three people were lying on the ground in the street of the northern Spanish city Thursday afternoon, apparently being helped by police and others. Videos of the scene recorded people screaming as they fled.

Police cordoned off the broad, popular street, ordering stores and nearby Metro and train stations to close. They asked people to stay away from the area so as not to get in the way of emergency services. A helicopter hovered over the scene.

Las Ramblas, a street of stalls and shops that cuts through the center of Barcelona, is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. People walk down a wide, pedestrianized path in the center of the street, but cars can travel on either side.

Spain’s El Pais newspaper says that Barcelona police are treating the van crash as a terror attack.

Authorities say a van mounted a sidewalk in the iconic Las Ramblas area of Barcelona, slamming into a crowd of pedestrians. Local media reports say there are several injured.

El Pais newspaper, citing unnamed police sources, also reported that the perpetrators are holed up in a nearby bar. Some local media have reported bursts of gunfire.

Barcelona police, in a tweet, told people to stay away from the center of the city because of a “large contingent of security forces and emergency services” deployed in the area.

 

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