BARCELONA (Reuters) – A van plowed into crowds in the Spanish city of Barcelona on Thursday and a regional official said 13 people were killed, in what police said they were treating as a terrorist attack.
Police said they had arrested a man linked to the attack in the heart of the city, but did not identify him or describe his role. Earlier police were searching for the van’s driver who, according to local media, fled the scene on foot.
Witnesses saying the van zigzagged down one of Barcelona’s busiest tourist avenues, Las Ramblas, mowing down pedestrians and leaving bodies strewn across the ground.
A government official in the region of Catalonia, which includes Barcelona, said on Twitter that at least 50 people were injured.
Eyewitness Tom Gueller told the BBC: “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.
“It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds,” he added.
Spanish media had also reported that two armed men were holed up in a bar in downtown Barcelona, and reported gunfire in the area, However, police later dismissed those reports.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter: “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help.”
He added: “Be tough & strong, we love you!”
Mobile phone footage 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.
Emergency services said people should not go to the area around Barcelona’s Placa de Catalunya, one of the city’s main squares at the top of the Ramblas, and requested the closure of nearby train and metro stations.