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Current Affairs ( 16 Aug 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Barcelona Attack: Police Kill 5 Suspected Terrorists, Foil 'Bomb Plot'

The Times of India and Indian Express

Aug 18, 2017


Barcelona terror attack: People attend to injured persons at the scene after a van crashed into pedestrians near the Las Ramblas avenue in central Barcelona, Spain August 17, 2017. (Photo via Reuters)


BARCELONA: A van veered onto a promenade and barrelled down the busy walkway in central Barcelona on Thursday, swerving back and forth as it mowed down pedestrians and turned a picturesque tourist destination into a bloody killing zone. Thirteen people were killed and 100 were injured, 15 of them seriously, in what authorities called a terror attack.

The late afternoon attack in the city's Las Ramblas district left victims sprawled in the historic street, spattered with blood or writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with their guns drawn or fled in panic, screaming and carrying young children in their arms.

"It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible," Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official for Spain's Catalonia region told reporters late Thursday.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by "soldiers of the Islamic State" in response to the extremist group's calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

Early Friday, Catalan police said they shot and killed five suspects in a seaside resort town south of Barcelona in response to a terrorist attack. They also said six civilians were injured in Cambrils but didn't immediately say how. The force is working on the theory that the Cambrils suspects are linked to the Barcelona attack, as well as to a Wednesday night explosion in the town of Alcanar in which one person was killed.

The Catalan regional government said citizens from 24 countries were among the people killed and injured during the Barcelona van attack.

Authorities said the dead included a Belgian and a Greek woman was among the injured. Australia confirmed three of its citizens were injured; two others were Taiwanese and one was from Hong Kong, according to their governments. Germany was investigating whether its citizens were among the dead or injured.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the killings a "savage terrorist attack" and said Spaniards "are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life."

After the afternoon attack, Las Ramblas went into lockdown. Swarms of officers brandishing hand guns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafes and public transport to shut down.

Several hours later authorities reported two arrests, one a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish-run Mediterranean seafront enclave in North Africa, and the other a Moroccan. They declined to identify them.

Trapero said neither of them was the van's driver, who remained at large after abandoning the van and fleeing on foot. The arrests took place in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll and in Alcanar, where a gas explosion in a house is being investigated for a possible connection.

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and other news outlets named one of the detained as Driss Oukabir, a French citizen of Moroccan origin. RTVE reported Oukabir went to police in Ripoll to report that his identity documents had been stolen. Various Spanish media said the IDs with his name were found in the attack van and that he claimed his brother might have stolen them.

Media outlets ran photographs of Oukabir they said police had issued to identify one of the suspects. The regional police told the Associated Press that they had not distributed the photograph. They refused to say if he was one of the two detained.

Barcelona is the latest European city where attackers used a vehicle as a weapon of terror against a popular tourist destination, after other deadly attacks in France, Germany, Sweden and Britain.

"London, Brussels, Paris and some other European cities have had the same experience. It's been Barcelona's turn today," Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia's government.

Thursday's bloodshed was Spain's deadliest attack since 2004, when al-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 192 people in coordinated assaults on Madrid's commuter trains. In the years since, Spanish authorities have arrested nearly 200 jihadists. The only deadly attacks were bombings claimed by the Basque separatist group ETA that killed five people over the past decade but it declared a cease-fire in 2011.

"Unfortunately, Spaniards know the absurd and irrational pain that terrorism causes. We have received blows like this in recent years, but we also that terrorists can be beaten," Rajoy said.

During the search for the perpetrators, troopers shot and killed a man who was in a vehicle that hit two officers at a traffic blockade on the outskirts of Barcelona. But Trapero said the driver's actions were not linked to the van attack.

Las Ramblas cuts through the centre of Barcelona and is one of the city's top tourist destinations. It is a wide avenue of stalls and shops with a pedestrian-only walkway in the centre while cars can travel on either side.

A taxi driver who witnessed the attack, Oscar Cano, said the white van suddenly jumped the curb and sped down the central pedestrian area at a high speed for about 500 yards (457 meters), veering from side to side as it targeted people.

"I heard a lot of people screaming and then I saw the van going down the boulevard," another witness, Miguel Angel Rizo, told The Associated Press. "You could see all the bodies lying through Las Ramblas. It was brutal. A very tough image to see."

Jordi Laparra, a 55-year-old physical education teacher and Barcelona resident, said it initially looked like a terrible traffic accident.

"At first I thought it was an accident, as the van crashed into 10 people or so and seemed to get stuck. But then he maneuvered left and accelerated full speed down the Ramblas and I realized it was a terrorist attack," Laparra said. "He zigzagged from side to side into the kiosks, pinning as many people as he could, so they had no escape."

Carol Augustin, a manager at La Palau Moja, an 18th-century former palace on Las Ramblas that now houses offices and a tourism center, said the van passed in front of the building.

"People started screaming and running into the office. It was such a chaotic situation. There were families with children," she said.

Dutch visitor Tamara Jurgen said she and a friend were inside a clothing store steps from the scene and were kept inside until it was safe to leave.

"We were downstairs when it happened and everyone was screaming and running. We had to run up to the roof and throw our bags over a wall," Jurgen said. "We were all together along this wall and we were scared we were going to have to jump."

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau announced a minute of silence to be held Friday in Barcelona's main square "to show that we are not scared." The prime minister announced three days of national mourning.

Leaders around the world offered their support and condolences to Barcelona after the attack.

President Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. condemned the attack and "will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!"

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the U.K. "stands with Spain against terror" while French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: "All my thoughts and solidarity from France for the victims of the tragic attack in Barcelona. We will remain united and determined."

Spain has been on a security alert one step below the maximum since June 2015 following attacks elsewhere in Europe and Africa.

Multiple attacks occurred in London this year. A man in a rented SUV plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four people before he ran onto the grounds of Parliament and stabbed an unarmed police officer to death in March.

Four other men drove onto the sidewalk of London Bridge, unleashing a rampage with knives that killed eight people in June. Another man also drove into pedestrians leaving a London mosque later in June.



Barcelona Terror Attack Updates: Spanish Police Kill 5 Suspected Terrorists, Thwart Second Attack

By: Express Web Desk

 | New Delhi | August 18, 2017 9:20 am

Barcelona terror attack LIVE updates: At least 13 people were killed and a 100 injured after a van plowed into a promenade in Barcelona. The Islamic State terror group later claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out by "the soldiers of the IS".

At least 13 people were killed and a 100 injured after a van plowed into a crowd in the heart of Barcelona on Thursday. The van had swerved off the sidewalk into an area near the Las Ramblas avenue, a popular tourist district of the city usually crowded with foreigners who frequent the bars and shops on the stretch of this historical market area. The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hours after the attack, the Spanish Police killed five suspected terrorists in Cambrils, which is 100 kilometres to the south of Barcelona. They confirmed that the suspects were planning to target the region in a similar attack. Six civilians and one police officer were wounded by the attackers.

9.10 am: BBC is reporting that the fifth attacker in Cambrils, got down from the car and tried to stab people on the streets. All five suspected terrorists were gunned down by authorities on Thursday. The attack in Cambrils came nearly eight hours after the one in Barcelona. The police, who were initially working on the assumption that the two incidents were linked, were later able to confirm the theory, also revealing that the Cambrils attackers were wearing bomb belts. Seven people were injured by the terrorists in Cambrils, one of whom is in critical condition.

8.55 am: The United Nations has strongly condemned the attack.  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres extending his condolences to the families of those killed, and wished the injured a speedy recovery. He hoped to see those responsible for swiftly brought to justice. “The United Nations stands in solidarity with the Government of Spain in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism,” a statement from the UN added.

8.50 am: Many world leaders have condemned the attack. There are at least 18 nationalities among the victims of the Barcelona attack, including France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Argentina, Venezuela, Belgium, Australia, Hungary, Peru, Romania, Ireland, Greece, Cuba, Macedonia, China, Italy and Algeria. Remember, it’s currently the tourist season in Spain, and Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona’s busiest streets. There are several shops and restaurants on the promenade, and it is normally packed with tourists and street performers.

8.30 am: In Cambrils, a city 100 kilometres to the South of Barcelona, the Spanish Police gunned down five suspected terrorists. Four were immediately killed and one later succumbed to his injuries. They were seen carrying out a similar attack in an Audi A3. Six pedestrians and one policeman were injured in the attack. One of the pedestrians is in critical condition. The police, who believed the incident was related to the one in Barcelona, later confirmed that the terrorists were wearing bomb belts and were planning a larger attack. In Cambrils, residents have been asked to stay indoors and avoid public places. The Spanish Police are now working under the assumption that there was a larger plot in place, to target multiple Spanish cities.

8.25 am: The five suspects killed in Cambrils by the Spanish Police were wearing bomb belts, reports AP. According to police, they had run over civilians with a car, in a similar attack to the one in Barcelona. In an anti-terror operation, the police foiled a second attack in the coastal city of Cambrils, killing five suspected terrorists.

8.15 am: The Barcelona football team will wear black arm bands during their match on Sunday at Camp Nou, as a mark of respect for the victims of Thursday’s attack. In a statement, the club said: “FC Barcelona wants to express its profound sorrow and utter disgust at the terrorist attack that has hit the heart of our city, la Rambla de Barcelona. The Club wishes to send our support and thoughts to the victims, their families and friends as well as the people of Barcelona and its visitors. As a mark of respect, the flags will fly at half-mast at the club’s installations and the players from both teams will wear black armbands in all the club’s matches this weekend,” reported ESPN.

8.00 am: After describing the incident as a “jihadist attack”, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Thursday had announced three days of official mourning. At 12 noon Spanish time, a minute of silence will be held for the victims at Plaça Catalunya.

7.55 am: Sikh Gurudwaras are staying open in Spain for anyone in need of food and shelter.

Harjinder S Kukreja @SinghLions

#Barcelona If anyone needs shelter, food, Sikh houses of worship in the the Spanish city are open for all #BarcelonaAttack

1:26 AM - Aug 18, 2017

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7.50 am: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday had said there were no Indian casualties in the attack. She tweeted emergency numbers in Barcelona, provided by the Indian Embassy. Read more here.

7.45 am: The fifth ‘terrorist’, who was wounded by the police in Cambrils, has succumbed to his injuries, confirms the Catalonian police in a tweet.

7.40 am: Thursday’s attack is the deadliest in Spain since March 2004, when Islamic militants targeted commuter trains in Madrid. Multiple bomb explosions had killed 191 people and injured over 1,800 in the attack.

7.30 am: This is the statement the Islamic State group reportedly put out on Thursday in response to the attack: “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”. This is a reference to a U.S.-led coalition against the Sunni militant group, reports AP.

7.25 am: An anti-terror operation is being conducted across Spain right now, with police probing what could be one of multiple planned attacks. The Spanish Police is currently searching for the driver of the van, who was last seen fleeing the scene on foot.

Just to break it down, there were multiple incidents on Thursday, due to which the police believe the Las Ramblas attack was one of many. First, there was an explosion in a house in a separate town southwest of Barcelona, which killed one person. Second, the Las Ramblas attack in Barcelona. Third, police foiled a bomb plot in Cambrils; six civilians and one policeman have been injured.

7.15 am: The bomb squad has been sent to Cambrils to determine if the attackers were carrying explosive belts. The Catalan Police are expected to carry out a series of controlled explosions in the coastal town now.

Mossos @mossos

In few minutes we are going to make several controlled explosions in #Cambrils. If you hear detonations DO NOT be alarmed, are controlled!

6:57 AM - Aug 18, 2017

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7.05 am: The four “suspected terrorists” killed by the Spanish Police in Cambrils — around 100 kilometres from Barcelona to the south of the country — are believed to have been linked to the attack, confirm the Catalan police. A fifth suspect was left wounded. According to Reuters, they were trying to conduct a similar attack to the one in Barcelona. Six civilians and one police officer have been injured in Cambrils.

6:55 am: Here’s a recap of the events from Spain, in case you’re just joining us. On Thursday evening, at least 13 people were killed and a 100 injured after a van plowed into a promenade in Barcelona. The Islamic State terror group later claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out by “the soldiers of the IS”.

In response to the attack, the Catalan police shot and killed four suspects and wounded a fifth. Las Ramblas, where the attack took place, is in lockdown. The van driver remains at large, after he abandoned his vehicle and fled on foot.

6:30 am: Spanish police confirm officers shot and killed four suspects in a separate alleged terror plot south of Barcelona, AP reported

5: 27 am: Several attackers killed in shootout in cambrils, south of Barcelona, after police announce operation, Spanish Media reported

1:11 am: ISIS claims responsibility for van attack in Barcelona through its Amaq news agency, Reuters report

12:10 am: Spanish police have released this photo of Driss Oukabir, the man who is alleged to have rented the van used in the attack in Barcelona.

BBC Breaking News @BBCBreaking

Spanish police release photo of Driss Oukabir, man alleged to have rented van used in #Barcelona attack

12:13 AM - Aug 18, 2017

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12:05 am: Catalan regional police say they are evacuating people from Barcelona’s Las Ramblas area amid manhunt after van attack, AP reports.

11:55 pm: And it’s confirmed. A Catalan government official on Twitter said that 13 people have been confirmed killed in the incident.

11:50 pm: Catalan Foreign Minister condemned the attack and described the situation as ‘absolutely traumatic.’

11:40 pm: US President Donald Trump tweets, “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!”

11:35 pm: Meanwhile, Sushma Swaraj confirms that there is no report of any Indian casualty in the attack. Indians, who are in an emergency, can contact the Indian embassy in Spain at +34-608769335.

11:30 pm: Okay, now Spanish public broadcaster RTVE is saying that one suspect in the van attack has been arrested, reports Associated Press.

11:25 pm: “Terrorists around the world should know — the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a press conference with Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and their Japanese counterparts. The US has offered its assistance to Spain with the investigation.

11:20 pm: Reuters has a good map showing where exactly the van swerved off the sidewalk to crash into the crowd.

Reuters Top News @Reuters

See map of where van crashed into #Barcelona crowd near Las Ramblas avenue:  More here:

11:18 PM - Aug 17, 2017

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11:15 pm: While local Spanish media is reporting a higher casualty figure, the authorities have stuck to the figure of one. However, they said the figure might go up as some of the injured are in a critical condition. Police are still searching for the driver of the van.

11:05 pm: To see photos from the site of the attack, click here

11:00 pm: The White House says President Donald Trump has been alerted to the unfolding situation in Barcelona. Chief of staff John Kelly is aware of the developments and is keeping the president informed. Trump is on a working vacation at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. His wife, first lady Melania Trump, sent her “thoughts and prayers” to Barcelona via Twitter.

10:40 pm: Police confirmed at a press conference that while one person has been confirmed killed in the incident, 32 others are injured of whom 10 are critically injured. The toll is likely to go up.

10:35 pm: Police confirms the deadly attack in Barcelona as an act of terrorism

barcelona, terror attack, barcelona van, islamic state barcelona, isis barcelona La Rambla, Barcelona terror attack: Injured people are treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. (AP Photo)

10:18 pm:  According to Reuters report, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was in contact with authorities, and the priority was to attend to the injured.

Reuters Top News @Reuters

UPDATE: Catalan police say there are dead, injured after van mowed down dozens in Barcelona; searching for driver

9:53 PM - Aug 17, 2017

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10:09 pm:  Motive behind the attack is not confirmed yet. Catalan police have activated protocols for the attack. The  police is also searching for driver of the van that mowed down dozens in Barcelona.

9:55 pm: Local media is reporting that two people have been killed even though officials have not confirmed the same. At least 20 people are reported to be injured in the incident.

9:50 pm: Two armed men have entrenched themselves in a bar in Barcelona’s city centre, El Periodico newspaper is reporting. Gunfire in the area of La Boqueria Market is also being reported. It is not clear if the men were the drivers of the van.

9:40 pm: A photograph broadcast by RTVE showed three people lying on the ground in the northern Spanish city being helped by people.

9:30 pm: Local media is reporting that two armed men have entered a restaurant nearby.