Van plows into crowd in Barcelona; Police view it as terror

Published on Thursday, 17 August 2017 11:55 - Written by ASSOCIATED PRESS

BARCELONA, Spain - A white van jumped the sidewalk Thursday in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district, injuring several people as it plowed into a summer crowd of tourists and residents, police said. The El Pais newspaper said police were treating the crash as a terror attack.

Quoting unnamed police sources, El Pais said the two perpetrators of the crash were holed up in a bar in Tallers Street. There was no immediate police confirmation of the report.

In a photograph on public broadcaster RTVE, three people were lying on the ground in the street of the northern Spanish city Thursday afternoon, apparently being helped by police and others. Other videos showed five people down and recorded people screaming as they fled the scene.

Police cordoned off the broad, popular street, ordering stores and nearby Metro and train stations to close. They asked people to stay away from the area so as not to get in the way of emergency services. A helicopter hovered over the scene.

Las Ramblas, a street of stalls and shops that cuts through the center of Barcelona, is one of the city's top tourist destinations. People walk down a wide, pedestrianized path in the center of the street, but cars can travel on either side.

Cars, trucks and vans have been the weapon of choice in multiple extremist attacks in Europe in the last year.

The most deadly was the driver of a tractor-trailer who targeted Bastille Day revelers in the southern French city of Nice in July 2016, killing 86 people. In December 2016, 12 people died after a driver used a hijacked trick to drive into a Christmas market in Berlin.

There have been multiple attacks this year in London, where a 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 and four men drove onto the sidewalk of London Bridge and rampaged with knives nearby, killing eight in June.

A man also drove into pedestrians leaving a London mosque later in June.