MS Risk Blog

Spain Rocked by Two Terror Attacks

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Two terror attacks yesterday, 17 August, have rocked Spain, with at least 13 people killed in an attack in Barcelona, that also injured dozens, and five suspected terrorist killed in a second attack in the town of Cambrils.

On Thursday afternoon, around 16:50 (14:50 GMT), a suspected terrorist drove a white Fiat van into crowds on Las Ramblas in Barcelona. The area is a popular street located in the centre of the city. It runs 1.2 km (0.75 miles) through the centre of Barcelona from the city’s Placa de Catalunya (Catalonia Square) to the Christopher Columbus monument at the seafront. Witnesses at the scene reported that the van deliberately targeted people, weaving from side to side. The driver of the van, believed to be the sole attacker, fled on foot and is still being hunted by police. Two other people however were detained on Thursday over the Las Ramblas attack. According to local media, one of those held is Driss Oubakir, whose documents were used in order to rent the van. Reports say that he is in his 20s, and was born in Morocco, however the latest reports have suggested that he has told police he was not involved and that his documents were stolen. Spanish media have also reported that his younger brother, Moussa Oubakir, is being sought in connection with the Las Ramblas attack. The second man arrested was born in Melilla, the autonomous Spanish city on the north coast of Africa. He has not been named. On Friday, police announced that a third arrest had been made in the Catalan town of Ripoll. Hours after the attack in Las Ramblas, at around 18:30 local time, police found a second van, thought to be a getaway vehicle, in the town of Vic, which is located 80 km north of Barcelona. At 19:30 local time on Thursday, a car is driven into officers at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Barcelona. The incident occurred in Sant Just Desvern. A man is found dead in the car but the interior ministry has denied earlier reports that he was killed by police gunfire. Officials have disclosed that the dead man is not believe to be linked to the Las Ramblas attack, adding that investigations are ongoing. At 01:00 on Friday in Cambrils, a second vehicle attack takes place in the resort south of Barcelona. Police kill five terrorist suspects said to be linked to the Las Ramblas attack.

On Wednesday evening, an explosion ripped through a house in the small town of Alcanar, which is located some 200 km south of Barcelona. One person was killed in that incident. According to Police chief Joseph Lluis Trapero, it appeared that the residents at the house had been “preparing an explosive device.” A Catalan government official has disclosed that a cell may have intended to use gas canisters in the Las Ramblas attack.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has described the incident as a “jihadist attack,” with the so-called Islamic State (IS) claiming responsibility. In a brief statement carried by its Amaq news agency, IS stated that the attack was carried out by “Islamic State soldiers.” The group however gave no further evidence or details to back this claim.

The Catalan government has reported that citizens of some 24 countries were killed or injured in the Las Ramblas attack, with one Belgian national already confirmed dead. On Friday, France’s foreign ministry disclosed that 26 French nationals were injured, with at least 11 in a serious condition. Officials have reported that Hong Kong, Taiwan and Greece are amongst those saying that their citizens were injured, adding that German, Pakistani, Philippine, Venezuelan, Australian, Peruvian, Dutch, Algerian and Chinese nationals are also amongst the casualties.

Europe’s Deadly Vehicle Attacks