Spain twin attacks: Police arrest four suspects but driver still on the run

RSTV Bureau
Barcelona: Injured are helped on a long stretch of pedestrian sidewalk after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district of Barcelona, Spain, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017.   According to witnesses the white van swerved from side to side as it drove into tourists and residents. AP/PTI

Barcelona: Injured are helped on a long stretch of pedestrian sidewalk after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district of Barcelona, Spain, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017. According to witnesses the white van swerved from side to side as it drove into tourists and residents. AP/PTI

Terror outfit Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the twin attacks in Spain that killed 14 people and injured over 100 on Thursday.

The first attack took place in Barcelona where a white van ploughed through pedestrians in Las Ramblas, one of the busiest streets in the heart of the city lined with shops and restaurants. 13 people were killed and scores were injured. The driver of the van is said to have escaped after the attack.

The second attack took place about eight hours later in Cambrils, a city 120 kilometres south of Barcelona, where an Audi A3 car hit pedestrians, injuring six civilians and killing one police officer. Here, the police were able to kill all five attackers, thus preventing another Las Ramblas like attack. Cambrils is also a popular sea-side town and it was peak tourist season when the attack happened.

Catalonia police suggested that the two attacks were linked.

The police also said that they arrested four suspects in connection with the attacks, including the brother of the driver of the white van in Barcelona. But the driver himself is still said to be on the run. Of the three arrested, one is a Spaniard and the other of Moroccan origin.

According to the police the Spaniard was arrested in Alcanar, about 200 kms south of Barcelona. Interestingly, Alcanar is the same place where an explosion took place in a house late on Wednesday that left one person dead and seven wounded.

“We suspect that they (the occupants) were preparing an explosive device,” Josep Lluis Trapero of the regional Catalonia police told reporters.

Most of the victims have been identified as foreign nationals. Nationals from 34 countries are said to be among the victims.

“We’re united in grief…Above all we’re united in the firm intention to defeat those who want to take our values and way of life from us,” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in a televised address. The Prime Minister also rushed to Barcelona, the biggest city in Catalonia, a region in Spain’s northeast.

United Nations and several world leaders including US President Donald Trump condemned the attack.

This is the latest in a wave of attacks in Europe where vehicles have been used as weapons of terror.

The truck rampage in Nice in France in July 2016 killed 86 people. Earlier Belgium and Germany were also attacked.

But it was Spain, which was hit by one of Europe’s deadliest terror attacks in March 2004, when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people. The strike was claimed by Al Qaeda-inspired extremists.

(With inputs from agencies)