Hundreds of protesters descended on the streets of Barcelona just a day after a van plowed into people in the historic Las Ramblas area killing 14 and injuring over 100. The protests which turned violent saw members of anti-Islam La Flange group going against anti-fascist counter demonstrators. Blockades have been created by riot police in the area which had to intervene between the two factions to control the increasing violence.
La Flange came out on the streets, after Islamic State (IS) took responsibility for the attack. The group on its website said,”No one was fooled into thinking that the policies of multiculturalism and #RefugeesWelcome wouldn’t end like they did in Las Ramblas in Barcelona.”
Earlier on Thursday, Spain saw one of the deadliest terror attacks on its soil as a van plowed into people in historic Las Ramblas area. The attack in Catalonia carried out at around 5.30 pm (local time) left 14 dead and over 100 injured. Witnesses said the van kept pulling back and forth in order to hurt as many people as possible, also moving from side to side. The dead and injured are from over 34 countries, including France, Germany, Pakistan and the Philippines.
Taking responsibility for the attack in Barcelona IS’ media arm Amaq news agency issued a statement on Thursday saying, “The perpetrators of the Barcelona attack are soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting coalition states.” The terrorist organisation’s claims are yet to be verified.
8:50 am: A massive anti-terrorism operation is ongoing in Spain to hunt the perpetrators of the worst attack in the country’s recent history at Las Ramblas. The van drove for 500-600 meters in the Ramblas boulevard crowded by pedestrians, killing 13 on its way. Here is a map of the attack site.
8:40 am: Authorities believe that the terrorists had an intention of detonating a bigger bomb at he the centre of the market placing it in the van.
8:27 am: Authorities after taking a closer look at a blast site in town of Alcanar said that the terrorists had a much bigger attack in mind which was thwarted after they managed to create a flawed bomb which exploded blowing apart the house. The Spanish police now believes that the small house might be the incubator which was used to plan and execute the deadly attack on people in Las Ramblas.
8:17 am: Spanish authorities believe that the attack was carried by a cell of at least nine extremists who plotted to combine vehicles and explosives and meticulously carried out the plan at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, according to news agency AP.
8:14 am: After the devastating and gut wrenching experience on Thursday Barcelona once again stood up to extremism, with the Las Ramblas promenade quietly reopening to the public Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy along with King Felipe VI joined at the city’s main square to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in the deadly attack.
7:52 am: World leaders expressed their sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of the attack. Former American President Barrack Obama in a tweet said, “Michelle and I are thinking of the victims and their families in Barcelona. Americans will always stand with our Spanish friends. Un abrazo.”
7:40 am: Taking precautionary measures after a series of vehicles attacks in last one year, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is all set to announce his plan to ensure safety of pedestrians in high-traffic areas from such attacks in the country. Turnbull called on the people to pray for the seven-year-old Australian boy who is still missing in Barcelona after being separated from his mother during the attack in Las Ramblas.
Read: IS has been conducting attacks in similar fashion in Europe. Click Here
6:46 am: California resident Jared Tucker and his new bride had just sent joyful pictures from their first trip to Europe, a vacation they’d saved for to celebrate their one year anniversary. The last pictures arrived a day before tragedy struck. According to news agency Reuters, Tucker’s family in Northern California learned Friday that he was among those killed in the deadly truck attack a day earlier in Barcelona. He says the family is still in disbelief that the one American victim of the attack was him. His father, Dan Tucker, says he had not seen his son happier than he had been in the last year. He added that his only consolation is that 42-year-old Jared probably died happy.
5:00 am: The driver of the van that ploughed into crowds in Barcelona, killing 13 people, may still be alive and at large, Spanish police said in a statement issued on Friday, denying earlier reports that he had been shot dead in a Catalan seaside resort.
The police chief in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia, Josep Lluis Trapero, said he could not confirm the driver was one of five men killed. “It is still a possibility but, unlike four hours ago, it is losing weight,” he told regional TV.
3:30 am: Catalonia’s regional police identified the four suspects responsible for attacks in Spain, naming then as as Moussa Oukabir, 17, Said Aallaa, 18, and Mohamed Hychami, 24. Police said the search for a fourth suspect, Younes Abouyaaqoub, aged 22, is still underway.
Of the 12 people suspected of being involvement in the attacks, five were shot dead by security forces in Cambrils and another four have been arrested, said Josep Lluis Trapero of Catalonia’s police during a televised interview, on Friday. The three remaining suspects have been identified but have not been detained, he further added.
3:00 am: President Donald Trump spoke with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy over the phone, on Friday and pledged the full support of the United States in investigating the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils and bringing the perpetrators to justice, the White House said in a statement.
Trump also extended his condolences to the victims of the attacks and their families, the statement said.
2:00 am: Some of the Victims of the terror attack in Spain have been named:
Jared Tucker, 42, USA
Jared Tucker has been confirmed as among those killed in a deadly truck attack in Barcelona, Spain, his father said Friday.
Pepita Codina, 75, Spain
Pepita Codina’s death was confirmed on Twitter and Instagram by Xavier Vilamala, the mayor of Hipolit de Voldrega. Hipolit de Voldrega is a town of 3,000 people, near Barcelona.
Ana Maria Suarez, Spain
She was the sole victim of the car attack in the Spanish seaside resort of Cambrils, on Friday according to a tweet by the Spanish Royal Family.
Bruno Gulotta, 35, Italy
Gulotta, belonged to Legnano, a city in northern Italy. He is being praised as a hero for protecting his children during an attack in Barcelona. To save his two young children: Alessandro, 6, and Aria, 7 months, Gulotta threw himself between them and the van that mowed people down.
Luca Russo, 25, Italy
He is one of the two Italian victims in the Barcelona van attack. He was an engineer by profession. Witnesses say he was dragged to death by the attacker’s car in Barcelona. His girlfriend Marta Scomazzon, was hospitalized with a fractured foot and elbow in the attack.
The Spanish authorities said that there are at least 34 nationalities represented among the victims of the attacks.
1: 00 am: An official with the Spanish Union police said a document has identified the four Barcelona terror attack suspects, who belonged to a small city of Ripoll, near the Pyrenees mountains ( an area close to Spain’s border with France). The document whose validity was confirmed by a Spanish police union official, identified the four as Moussa Oukabir, Said Aallaa, Mohamed Hychami and Younes Abouyaaqoub. The document further states that the four suspect are of Moroccan descent.
12:40 am: A Spanish police official confirmed earlier reports that Moussa Oukabir, one of the main suspects in the Barcelona van attacks, was killed by officers in Cambrils early Friday. Media reports in newspapers across Spain have also reported that Oukabir, 17, was killed and say that he was the driver of the van that plowed into scores of pedestrians in Barcelona, killing 13 people and wounding 120 others, on Thursday.
12:30 am: Barcelona Football Cub players will bear the city’s name on the back of their shirts in tribute to the victims of Thursday’s deadly attack in Spain’s largest city when they play Real Betis in La Liga on Sunday. The club has taken approval from Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) to have the message #TotsSomBarcelona (We are all Barcelona) embroidered on their jerseys. The players will also wear a black armband in a show of unity. All 40 teams in the Spain’s top two divisions in holding a minute’s silence before every game at the weekend.
12: 00 am: The Spanish police manage to disperse a small group of far-right protesters after separating them from hundreds of counter-protesters near the site of the Barcelona van attack. A small group of far-right protesters, numbering 20-30, held up signs saying “Stop Islamization of Europe.” While counter protesters raised slogans against the far-right protesters saying “tontos,” or “idiots”.
11: 30 pm: French official have started a search for a car that was rented by the suspects involved in the attack in Barcelona. French security official said the Spanish police were looking for a Kangoo utility vehicle which was rented by suspected attacks and that may have crossed into France. Spanish police had alerted the French authorities about the situation, prompting the French police to order a nation wide search for the car.
10.15 pm: According to Spanish media reports, driver of the van that plowed into people in Barcelona on Thursday was one of the five men killed by police hours after the attack. Catalan police had earlier said that it was possible that the driver was not of those shot by the police in a major anti-terror operation in Cambrils. However, Spain’s El Pais and El Periodico newspapers reported on Friday that the driver was one of them.
10.00 pm: Spanish media reported that police found documents bearing Driss Oukabir’s name in the attack van on Thursday. Spanish public broadcaster RTVE reported that he went to police in Ripoll, Spain to report that his identity documents had been stolen. He claimed that his brother might have stolen them.
9.45 pm: Emergency authorities in Spain provided an update on the number of casualties in the twin attacks. According to Civil Protection agency, 120 people were injured in Barcelona attack, and six in Cambrils. From the victims of the van attack in Barcelona, 61 people are still hospitalized. Out of these, 17 are in critical condition and 25 in serious condition. Four victims of the Cambrils attack are currently hospitalised, and three of them are in serious condition.
9.30 pm: In a tweet on Friday, US President Donald Trump said “radical Islamic terrorism” must be stopped. “Radical Islamic Terrorism must be stopped by whatever means necessary! The courts must give us back our protective rights. Have to be tough!” he tweeted. His tweet came a day after twin terror attacks in Spain. Islamic State has taken responsibility for the attacks.
9.15 pm: Spanish authorities have said that a gas explosion in a house in Alcanar on Wednesday led to two days of bloodshed in the country. Authorities first believed that it was simply a home gas explosion but later realised the building was packed with butane canisters.
9.00 pm: UN Security Council strongly condemned the terror attack in Barcelona and paid tribute to the victims. President of the council and Egypt’s UN Ambassador Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta began Friday’s meeting by denouncing the attacks. Aboulatta said the Security Council sends its “deepest condolences” to the families. “On behalf of the members of the Security Council, I should like to condemn in the strongest terms the unconscionable terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain, which targeted innocent civilians,” he said.
8.45 pm: Barcelona and Real Madrid football players held a minute of silence for the victims of the Spain terror attacks before their training sessions. England and West Indies cricket teams also observed a minute of silence before their first test match in Birmingham.
8.30 pm: “India fully supports Your Excellency’s Government in effectively responding to such attacks. We also stand ready to work with Spain to develop a strong global response to defeat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” Indian PM Narendra Modi wrote to Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
8.15 pm: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote to his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy expressing his shock and strongly condemning the attacks. “On behalf of the people of India and on my own behalf, I offer heartfelt condolences for the lives lost in this heinous and cowardly act and wish speedy recovery for those injured,” he wrote.
8.00 pm: The United States State Department said at least one American was killed and another one injured in the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils on Thursday. Saying the injured had only suffered minor injuries, the department said that diplomats from the US consulate in Barcelona were working with local authorities to identify victims and provide assistance.
7.45 pm: People organised memorial services for the victims of the attack in Barcelona.
7.30 pm: Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni tweeted the names of two Italians killed in the Barcelona terror attack. “Italy remembers Bruno Gulotta and Luca Russo and gathers tight around their families. Freedom will conquer the barbarianism of terrorism,” he tweeted on Friday. As per The Associated Press, 35-year-old Gullota was hailed as a hero in his hometown Legnano for putting himself between the van and his 6-year-old son and 7-month-old daughter. Officials said 25-year-old Russo’s girlfriend suffered fractures and remains hospitalised. Two other Italians were released from hospital.
7.15 pm: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II offered her sympathies to the King of Spain and the people of Barcelona. She and Prince Philip offered sincere condolences, saying their thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones or are in the hospital. She said it is “deeply upsetting when innocent people are put at risk in this way when going about their daily lives.”
Top developments that have taken place so far:
1. Police have arrested four people in relation with the attack. Catalan police had also gunned down five suspects in an extensive anti-terror operation few hours after the attack. The alleged terrorists were killed in an encounter in Cambrils in an operation which wounded five civilians and a police officer. According to Reuters, the attackers ran them over in a car before being killed. The police claimed that the attackers were carrying bomb belts, which were later detonated by the bomb squad, Police added the Cambrils incident was linked to the van attack in Barcelona.
2. Spain began three days of mourning in memory of the victims who were killed in the terror attack in Barcelona on Thursday. All across the country, flags could be seen flying at half mast. Hundreds of people gathered in Placa de Catalunya, city’s central square, on Friday to observe a minute of silence in the memory of the victims. Spain’s King Felipe, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and President of the Generalitat of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont were also present. People also laid down cards, candles and flowers at the site of the attack. Defiant crowds later on chanted, “I am not afraid” in Catalan, Reuters reported.
3. The attacks have been condemned by many leaders across the world, including US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron. Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called it a “jihadist attack” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “terrorism can cause us bitter and deeply sad hours, as has happened in Spain, but it won’t defeat us.” In a message to the cardinal of Barcelona, Pope Francis said the attack was “an act of blind violence that is a grave offence to the Creator”.
4. Following the attacks, security has been beefed up in various places across Spain as well as other countries. While Spain increased security in various cities and tourist attractions like Guggenheim Museum, Italy also tightened security measurements at tourist hotspots like Colosseum.
(With inputs from Reuters, AP and AFP)