A van ploughed into a crowd in Barcelona killing 13 and injuring multiple.
Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the act. According to Spanish police, another terror attack has been thwarted.
This isn’t the first time Spain has witnessed violence due to terrorism. In 2004, there were a series of coordinated bombings that took place against the Cercanías commuter train system of Madrid. The bombings began in the morning of March 11 and the explosions resulted in the deaths of 192 people and injured around 2,000. An investigation revealed that the attacks had been conducted by a terrorist outfit that had been inspired by the al Qaeda. However, the judiciary were not able to directly link to the al Qaeda group.
ISIS, which came into prominence in 2014, has been linked to some of the deadliest terror attacks that have occurred across the world. The group is said to be operational in over 18 countries. The group was also behind the 2015 Paris attacks.
In 2017, it emerged that ISIS and al Qaeda have specifically called on their supporters to attack people with cars. ISIS propaganda magazine Rumiyah published an article in English outlining the ideal vehicles that can be used in conducting terror attacks.
The attack in Barcelona began at around 4:50 pm on Thursday. It occurred in a popular and busy section of the city called the Las Ramblas. The van that ploughed into the crowd had been rented. According to witnesses, the vehicle deliberately targeted people while moving at a high speed. Some were able to find cover in shops and cafes and others were hit. Of the 13 who are dead, one of them was a Belgium woman.
Authorities have arrested two people in connection to the incident. One of them is from Melilla, North Africa and the other was born in Morocco. Neither of these men were the driver. Additionally, the police had released the picture of a man identified as Driss Oukabir as having rented the vehicle. Media reports now note that he has turned himself to the police and is claiming to be innocent. He has said that his papers were stolen.
In addition, two police officers were also run over by a vehicle at a checkpoint. However, it is not yet clear if that incident is connected to the Las Ramblas attack.
The Spanish police have now revealed that another attack had been planned. However, that has been thwarted and the law enforcement killed five suspected terrorists in the town of Cambrils in connection to that.
World leaders have come together to condemn the attacks and have expressed their condolences to the Spanish government.
Our assessment is that with ISIS losing its stronghold in Iraq and Syria, it has reverted its attention to the Western world by carrying out this terror attack.