Suspected second terrorist attack in Spain thwarted, suspected terrorists shot in nearby Cambrils
MADRID — Spanish police early Friday said they had killed the alleged perpetrators of a suspected terrorist attack in the town of Cambrils, south of Barcelona.
The news came hours after police launched a manhunt for the driver of a van who ploughed into crowds of people on one of Barcelona’s busiest thoroughfares, killing 13 people and injuring 100.
“We are working on the hypothesis that events in Cambrils respond to a terrorist attack. We have killed its alleged perpetrators,” Catalan police wrote on Twitter.
The El Mundo newspaper reported that four people had been killed in Cambrils, 74 miles south of Barcelona, without citing any source.
The newspaper La Vanguardia reported that a shootout had taken place on the town’s harbor side. Police had earlier warned residents to stay indoors.
The Islamic State terrorist group said via its affiliated Amaq news agency that its “soldiers” were responsible for the earlier attack on Las Ramblas, a popular tourist spot in Barcelona.
Catalan police chief Josep Luis Trapero said two men had been arrested in connection to the attack, a Moroccan and a Spanish national from the North African Spanish enclave of Melilla.
Neither were known to have any previous links to terrorism.
However, a third man believed to have been the driver of the van, was still on the run, Trapero told reporters.
The attack on Las Ramblas was “obviously a terrorist attack (carried out) with the intent to kill as many people as possible,” he said.
He also said that an explosion that killed one person and destroyed a house in the town of Alcanar, 124 miles south of Barcelona, on Wednesday night, was “clearly” linked to the attack.
However, he said that so far there was no evidence that another incident, in which police shot dead a man after he tried to evade a checkpoint while leaving Barcelona hours after the attack, was connected.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who cut short his holiday to travel to Barcelona, announced three days of official mourning and launched a staunch defense of democratic values in the wake of the attack.
“We are not only united in mourning. We are above all united in the resolute will to defeat those who want to take away our values and our way of life,” he said.
Catalonia’s Interior Minister Joaquim Forn said he expected the Bareclona death toll to rise.
Albert Zeitler, a German at the scene near the area’s Museum of Contemporary Art, told dpa by phone that it felt like a “war zone.”
“Police with machine guns and weapons were running at me. Everyone fled into the shops,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
Another witness, Erminia Mata told the El Mundo newspaper there were “a lot of people lying on the ground, covered with blood.”
Spanish media earlier released video footage of the scene showing motionless bloodied bodies strewn across the street.
Videos on social media showed a van traveling with its side door wide open at high speed down a pedestrian area.
The newspaper El Pais, citing police, said a Spanish passport was found inside the vehicle that hit the crowd.
Europe has been hit by a series of deadly terrorist attacks using vehicles over the last two years including deadly incidents in Nice, Berlin and two in London.
Spain’s worst terrorist attack was in March 2004 when 191 people were killed by bombs planted by Islamists on commuter trains in Madrid.