Van mows down crowd in Barcelona, 13 killed

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A van plowed into crowds in the heart of Barcelona on Thursday and Spanish media reported at least 13 people were killed, in what police said they were treating as a terrorist attack.

Regional authorities said one death had been confirmed so far, with 32 injured, 10 seriously.

But radio station Cadena Ser cited police sources as saying the death toll was much higher. Police said they said were searching for the driver of the van who, according to local media, fled the scene on foot.

Spanish newspaper El Periodico said two armed men were holed up in a bar in Barcelona’s city center, and reported gunfire in the area, though it did not cite the source of the information. It was not immediately clear whether the incidents were connected.

A source familiar with the initial U.S. government assessment said the incident appeared to be terrorism, and a White House spokeswoman said President Donald Trump was being kept abreast of the situation.

Media reports said the van had zigzagged at speed down the famous Las Ramblas avenue, a magnet for tourists.

“I heard screams and a bit of a crash and then I just saw the crowd parting and this van going full pelt down the middle of the Ramblas and I immediately knew that it was a terrorist attack or something like that,” eyewitness Tom Gueller told the BBC.

“It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds in the middle of the Ramblas.”

Mobile phone footage posted on Twitter showed several bodies strewn along the Ramblas, some motionless. Paramedics and bystanders bent over them, treating them and trying to comfort those still conscious.

Around them, the boulevard was deserted, covered in rubbish and abandoned objects including hats, flip-flops, bags and a pram.

“We saw a white van collide with people. We saw people going flying because of the collision, we also saw three cyclists go flying,” Ellen Vercamm, on holiday in Barcelona, told El Pais newspaper.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also said in a statement that it strongly condemned the attack.

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