This is a developing story.

UPDATE: Police have identified one of the suspected terrorists as Driss Oukabir. Reportedly, he is from the Maghreb region of North Africa. He has been arrested. Barcelona police have confirmed that 50 persons were wounded in the attack; 13 dead. Earlier reports of a person or persons involved in the attack being holed up in a bar were false, according to local police.

Amateur video taken on Wednesday in Barcelona showed apparently dead or wounded persons lying in a pedestrian mall, victims of a terrorist attack in the Spanish province of Catalonia. A white van plowed into a crowd of pedestrians at approximately 5 p.m. local time in the historic Las Ramblas district of the seaside city notable for its tourism.

Local media is reporting that police report that the armed terrorists who perpetrated the attack are now holed up in a bar on Tallers Street in Barcelona. Amateur video showed police responding to the attack. Police have cordoned off the broad, popular street. Stores, subway and train stations nearby were ordered closed. Citizens were told to leave the area in order to allow emergency services to respond. A helicopter hovered overhead.

Las Ramblas is a pedestrian street that goes through the center of Barcelona. It is famed throughout the world for its shopping and vibrant cuisine. A top tourist destination in Europe, on Las Ramblas there is a pedestrianized path in the middle of the street that allows vehicular traffic on either side. 

Local reports said that at least one dozen ambulances rushed to the scene to treat the injured. At least two dead have been reported, while more are feared to have been felled by the attack. An exact count of the dead and wounded has yet to be released. Reports on police radio suggest that at least 20 persons were injured. Media reports suggest that there may be 13 fatalities.

Besides the two men currently holed up in a Barcelona bar, authorities are also looking for a third man who is said to be wearing a striped shirt and approximately 5’6” (170cm) tall. Police have found one Spanish passport in the van that was left behind by the perpetrators of the crime. Police say that it belongs to a resident of Melilla, which is one of two Spanish enclaves in North Africa. Authorities have dubbed the attack as a terrorist incident. 

Some reports suggest that there was a lone male driver in the van, which witnesses say drove on the pedestrian walkway on Las Ramblas driving at a high speed in a serpentine fashion, mowing down pedestrians. Other reports say that there was a second van that was waiting for the driver of the first in order to effect an escape. 

The center of Barcelona is still on edge as tourists and locals huddle in stores and businesses.

Spain is generous in is social welfare payments to refugees. A family of three, for example, can receive as much as 1000 euros ($1175) per month. 

 

On an official visit to Japan, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis offered the condolences of the American people, noting that the government is offering assistance to the Spanish government.



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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