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13 killed, 50 injured in Barcelona attack

Last Updated Aug 17, 2017 at 1:49 pm MDT

PHOTO. Policemen stand next to vehicles in a cordoned off area after a van drove into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona on Aug. 17, 2017. GETTY IMAGES/AFP/Josep Lago

A second attack has taken place in Barcelona, according to a Spanish news source and Fox News.

A vehicle reportedly failed to stop at a police checkpoint and then slammed into a police car. The occupants of the vehicle reportedly got out and began to fire at police.

The attack happened just hours after a white van jumped the sidewalk Thursday in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district, killing one person and injuring dozens of others as it plowed into a summer crowd of tourists and residents, police said.

Catalonia’s regional interior chief Joaquim Forn said 13 people were killed in the attack and more than 50 were injured.

Regional police now are evacuating stores and bars in the Las Ramblas district.

The move came right after police announced they had arrested one suspect and were “treating him as a terrorist.”

David Amber, the studio host of Hockey Night in Canada, was in Barcelona at the time. He spoke to 680 NEWS about the attack.

“It’s very different than what it was earlier this afternoon. I was walking with my wife and kids in Las Ramblas after lunch. It was vibrant, it was as busy an avenue as you’ll find in any major international city … it’s incredibly vibrant and busy, with cafes and restaurants and things to do and things to see. It’s now completely bare except for police.

“They’ve effectively said to everyone, ‘don’t go outside.’”

Amber said he knew at least one person had died, and there was a body covered in a tarp outside his hotel room.

Media in Barcelona are reporting that up to 13 died in the attack, and the El Pais newspaper said police were treating the crash as a terror attack.

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.

Quoting unnamed police sources, El Pais said the two perpetrators of the crash were holed up in a bar in Tallers Street. There was no immediate police confirmation of the report.

Catalan police tweeted that “there are mortal victims and injured from the crash” without specifying numbers. The Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper reported at least one dead and 20 injured from the van.

In a photograph on 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. Other videos showed five people down and recorded people screaming as they fled the scene.

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

“I was walking on Las Ramblas an hour before the attack and can tell you there are thousands of people on this street, similar to Times Square,” David Amber, the studio host of Hockey Night in Canada, who is in Barcelona, said in a tweet.

Keith Fleming, an American who lives in Barcelona, was watching TV in his building just off Las Ramblas when he heard a noise and went out to his balcony.

“I saw women and children just running and they looked terrified,” he said.

There was a bang, possibly from someone rolling down a store shutter, and more people ran by. Then police arrived and pushed everyone down the street, a full block away. Even people leaning out of doors were being told to go back inside, he said.

He said police are there with their guns drawn and riot police are at the end of his block. He said his street is now deserted.

“It’s just kind of a tense situation,” Fleming said. “Clearly people were scared.”

Cars, trucks and vans have been the weapon of choice in multiple extremist attacks in Europe in the last year.

The most deadly was the driver of a tractor-trailer who targeted Bastille Day revelers in the southern French city of Nice in July 2016, killing 86 people. In December 2016, 12 people died after a driver used a hijacked trick to drive into a Christmas market in Berlin.

There have been multiple attacks this year in London, where a man in a rented SUV plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four people before he ran onto the grounds of Parliament and stabbed an unarmed police officer to death in March.

Four other men drove onto the sidewalk of London Bridge, unleashing a rampage with knives that killed eight people in June. Another man also drove into pedestrians leaving a London mosque later in June.