The Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy says his country stands in solidarity with Barcelona, which he says has been hit by ‘jihadi terrorism’. Rajoy made his comments after a van veered onto a pavement in a busy pedestrian zone in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district, killing 13 people and injuring many more.
People take cover as approximately eight shots ring out in the town of Cambrils, about 120km from Barcelona early on Friday. Catalan police later confirmed that officers shot dead four alleged ‘perpetrators’ and injured one more during the counter-terror raids there. It follows the deaths of at least 13 people in a van attack in Barcelona.
Malcolm Turnbull has condemned the terrorist attack in Barcelona, saying Australia stands in “absolute, resolute solidarity” with the people of Spain in their fight against Islamist terrorism.
He said “our love, our prayers” were with the victims and their families, and Australian consular officials were on their way to Barcelona from Madrid.
He said he would “shortly” release a new plan detailing how authorities planned to protect crowded places in Australia, such as sporting arenas and shopping centres, to prevent similar deadly vehicle attacks.
His office said the plan would not be released on Friday, and a spokesman declined to say when it would be made available.
“We have seen how deadly vehicle attacks can be,” Turnbull said on Friday, in a joint news conference with Tony Sheehan, the commonwealth counter-terrorism coordinator, and Duncan Lewis, the director general of security.
“Following the truck attack in Nice last year … I asked [the former] commonwealth counter-terrorism coordinator, Greg Moriarty, to work on protecting crowded places in Australia.
“That work has been completed now, and it will be released shortly,” he said.
Turnbull said Australia’s intelligence agencies worked closely with Spanish authorities in the fight against Islamist terrorism, and Spain was a partner in the anti-Daesh coalition in the Middle East.
He said 16 people had been killed in the attack in Barcelona, and warned that the death toll could rise.
“We understand three Australians have been injured – one seriously,” Turnbull said.
“Our consular officials are on their way to Barcelona from Madrid. We have an honorary consul in Barcelona.”
He used the opportunity to tell Australians their intelligence agencies worked “tirelessly” to keep them safe, and said there was “no place for set-and-forget on national security”.
Turnbull said his new plan was a “comprehensive analysis” that would provide advice and tools for the operators of large venues to make their venues safer for the public.
“It is about protecting crowded places, which is a very complex issue,” he said.
“What we seek to ensure is that when a new venue is being built, a new centre or shopping centre or football stadium, or some new public space is being constructed, resilience is built into that.”
Asked if the report would recommend new construction around existing venues, he said people would have to wait and see.
“We’ll have more to say when it is released, but it is obviously the responsibility of everyone to pay attention to the vulnerability of the crowded places that they’re therefore responsible, and to bear that in mind,” he said.
Police commissioner Josep Lluis Trapero says two people have been arrested who are suspected of direct links to the Barcelona van attack and an earlier explosion at a flat 200km away in Alcanar in which one person was killed and several injured. Neither of the detainees was the driver of the van in Thursday’s atrocity, he said. The arrests took place in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll and in Alcanar. The incidents in Barcelona and Alcanar are being linked to the killing by police of four terror suspects in Cambrils, 120km from Barcelona.
Thirteen people are confirmed dead and up to 100 injured in Las Ramblas, while earlier explosion at house in Alcanar is also linked to attack
- Analysis: attack provides harsh lessons in fight against terror
- Full report: van hits crowd in city centre
- Aftermath of attack on Las Ramblas – in pictures
- If you’ve been affected, you can share your experiences with us
What happened in Cambrils before police shot and killed five terror suspects is still unclear.
Officials have given little information beyond the fact that the five alleged perpetrators were killed; and that six bystanders were injured along with one police officer. The officer is lightly hurt, but one of the six is critically ill and another seriously wounded.
Some images from Cambrils show police officers inspecting a car in the town, after five suspects were shot.
Spanish media reports have said a vehicle might have been used to run down bystanders in the town. Police have said six people were injured but have given no further details.
A British man, Fitzroy Davis, witnessed the shooting of one of the suspects as he celebrated a night out with friends in Cambrils. One of his friends was injured by shrapnel during the incident.
He told the BBC:
We were sitting at the bar and these girls ran in and some people started running past us. One of our friends looked down the street and he says: ‘Run.’
The next thing is we see this guy coming running at us and someone shouted: ‘Call the police, call the police.’
Catalan police say the suspect who was injured and arrested in Cambrils has now died.
In New York, the spire of One World Trade Center has been lit red and yellow tonight in solidarity with the people of Barcelona:
The health department has said that one of the six bystanders injured in Cambrils is in a critical condition.
Spanish media including El País are reporting that a group of assailants in the town ran over several people in an echo of the day’s earlier attack in Barcelona. This has not been confirmed by authorities. However, police have said that six civilians and one police officer were injured.
Police also say they are about to conduct “several controlled explosions” in Cambrils and ask people in the town not to be alarmed.
In few minutes we are going to make several controlled explosions in #Cambrils. If you hear detonations DO NOT be alarmed, are controlled!
Catalan police have just confirmed that – as well as the four suspects shot dead, and a fifth who was wounded and arrested – six bystanders and one police officer were injured during the operation in Cambrils.
Two are seriously injured. The officer was slightly hurt.
There have been reports in Spanish media that the suspects targeted by police in Cambrils were wearing what appeared to be explosive belts.
Police now confirm that bomb disposal experts (Tedex) are investigating this.
3.12h Tedax treballa aquesta hora a Cambrils per determinar si els presumptes terroristes portaven cinturons d’explosius
Catalan police and the region’s interior minister, Joaquim Forn, have confirmed that investigators are working on the presumption that the attack on Las Ramblas, the thwarted attack in Cambrils, and the earlier house explosion in Alcanar are all connected.
In a statement posted on its website, the Chinese consulate in Barcelona said it was not aware of any Chinese fatalities, but said one tourist from Hong Kong had suffered minor injuries in the attack in Barcelona.
There were no other reports of Chinese citizens having been hurt.
The consulate urged Chinese citizens to contact local police in the case of an emergency.
The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, said the whole country country stands in solidarity with Barcelona, blaming “jihadi terrorism” for the attack that has left 13 people dead and many more injured.
It’s close to 3am in Spain. Catalan police say that although investigations continue in Cambrils, where four suspects were shot dead, “the situation is under control”.
2:56 El dispositiu policial a Cambrils continua en marxa però la situació, a hores d’ara, està sota control. Continuem demanant precaució
Here is the official statement from the Catalan police about the Cambrils shooting.
As well as the four killed in Cambrils, there is a fifth perpetrator injured during the same operation.
A banda dels 4 abatuts a Cambrils hi ha una cinquè autor ferit detingut pels mateixos fets
In photographs and video from the scene in Cambrils, three bodies can be seen lying in front of the town’s yacht club, Club Nàutic: it’s not clear if they are the alleged perpetrators shot by police.
This image – not taken today – shows the usual view of the club.
Police in other parts of Spain also appear to be on high alert. At least one police roadblock was operating in the small hours of Friday morning near the Retiro Park in the capital, Madrid, when I reached the city.
This video from Cambrils shows people taking cover as approximately eight shots ring out.
Catalan police later confirmed that officers shot dead four alleged perpetrators and injured one more during the counter-terror raids there.
This now looks like a coordinated attempt to carry out attacks in several parts of Catalonia, with tourists as a target.
Five other people are reported – though this is not yet confirmed – to have been injured on the seafront Paseo Maritimo in the Cambrils attack, allegedly by the suspected terrorists who were then shot by police.
A spokeswoman for the Catalan police has confirmed that officers shot dead four alleged perpetrators and injured one more during the counter-terror raid in Cambrils.
Video from the town of Cambrils appears to show the bodies of three people on the ground near the port area. It’s still not clear how many have been killed or injured in the police operation.
Emergency services say the situation in Cambrils is “exceptional” and ask people in the town to be patient. Some roads are closed, they say. People are asked to remain indoors.
Catalan police have now tweeted their earlier message in English.
They have still not yet confirmed how many “perpetrators” were involved or shot dead.
We work with the hypothesis that the incident of #Cambrils respond to a terrorist attack. We have shot down the perpetrators
La Vanguardia is reporting that four suspected terrorists have been killed by police (though this number has not been officially confirmed). It also has video of what appears to be shots being fired in the town and people hiding on the beach.
If correct, that would make five people killed by police in the past few hours. Another person was shot after driving through a police checkpoint, but officials later said the dead person had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks.
Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, has thanked the police involved in the Cambrils operation “in these critical and tragic hours”.
The small coastal town of Cambrils, where police have killed an unknown number of suspects during a counter-terrorism raid after today’s Barcelona van attack, is a popular tourist destination for Spanish holidaymakers on Catalonia’s Costa Daurada, or Gold Coast.
A port city with a population of 33,000, Cambrils is around 120km from Barcelona. Its city website describes it as “the beginning and end” of a number of popular tourist routes, in an area already dense with attractions. The town is 12km from the international Reus airport, and 10km from PortAventura World, which is the most popular theme park in Spain, with 4 million annual visitors.
Police have not confirmed how many suspects were killed in Cambrils. Spanish media reports are saying four or five, but this has not been confirmed.
There are also reports that a number of police officers were injured during the operation.
Police say they have killed “perpetrators” during the counter-terror raid in Cambrils.
Treballem amb la hipòtesi que els fets de Cambrils responen a un atac terrorista. Hem abatut els presumptes autors.
Roger Rovira, a journalist with TV3, is in Vic, 80km away from Barcelona, where a second van – presumed to be a getaway vehicle – that had been hired at the same time from the Telefurgo rental company in Sabadell, was found.
Rovira says police officers are attempting to open the van, but have sent in robots to check it, presumably for explosives. Journalists and others have been warned to stay back.
Police in Barcelona are removing the van used in the attack on Las Ramblas:
The Australian foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, said one woman, believed to be from New South Wales, is in a serious but stable condition and two young Australian men who were ‘directly affected’ by the fatal van attack in Spain would seek medical help in the morning.
Bishop urged all Australians in the area to contact consular authorities to let them know they are safe.
Police involved in the Cambrils operation are warning of a “possible terror attack”.
Officials are tweeting in Catalan and English – the town is a coastal one and close to tourist resorts.
Police have confirmed that the investigation ongoing in the town of Cambrils is a counter-terror operation.
People there have been advised to stay inside and not share unverified information.
Operatiu policial en marxa a Cambrils per possible atemptat terrorista.
Details are emerging of those killed and injured in the attack, although, as expected, there is not yet a clear picture and no casualties have yet been named.
Joaquim Forn, the regional interior minister, said at least 13 people had died and around 100 more were injured.
They are out of danger and have been taken to a hospital.
This is Claire Phipps picking up the live blog.
Mossos, the Catalonian police force, has said it is currently carrying out an operation in Cambrils, a coastal town around 120km from Barcelona.
The driver of a van that rammed into a packed street in Barcelona, is still on the run, Spanish police confirmed. There has been confusion on the driver’s whereabouts following two arrests.
Josep Lluís Trapero of the regional police of Catalonia, said one of the suspects arrested over the attack is a man born in the Spanish territory of Melilla in northern Morocco. The other, Driss Oukabir, is Moroccan.
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy said the van attack was “jihadist terrorism” which required a global response.
We have a bit more on the detained suspects. As mentioned before, neither of the men are the driver of the van involved in the attack.
The arrests of a Spanish national from Melilla and a Moroccan were made in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll and in Alcanar, the site of an explosion, which killed one person and is being potentially linked to the van attack, authorities said.
There has been a lot more reaction from high-profile figures and organisations, voicing their support for the Barcelona victims.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “My thoughts are with those killed and injured, and the emergency services working to save lives.”
Terrible reports from Barcelona. My thoughts are with those killed and injured, and the emergency services working to save lives.
Deeply saddened to hear about the attack in the wonderful city of Barcelona. What purpose this barbarity serves is beyond comprehension.
Michelle and I are thinking of the victims and their families in Barcelona. Americans will always stand with our Spanish friends. Un abrazo.
Barcelona, you have our resolve and support in the face of this cowardly attack. We stand together against terrorism wherever it strikes.
Our hearts go out to Barcelona in the wake of this sickening incident. Manchester stands in solidarity with that great city. We know from recent experience both how devastating this sort of attack is and how important international solidarity, community spirit and a refusal to give in to terror are in dealing with its aftermath.
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy cancelled his holiday in Galicia, north-west Spain, to return to Madrid.
Senior police official Josep Lluis Trapero said the attack van drove on to the pavement, swerving among pedestrians in a crowded area, and was “clearly a terror attack intended to kill as many people as possible”.
He said the van driver made off on foot and was not believed to be armed.
The Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has just given a press conference.
One Australian women, from New South Wales, is in hospital in a “serious but stable condition”.
At least three German citizens were among those who died during the Barcelona attack, according to a report by broadcaster ZDF which cited security sources.
The Australian government is concerned that Australians may have been caught up in the terror attack in Barcelona.
Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne says they are “concerned” Australians may be involved. Some reports are saying two may be injured, but there is nothing official yet.
All of a sudden there was this tidal wave of people running from both Placa de Catalunya and Las Ramblas towards us screaming, crying and with absolute terror etched on their faces.
Initially we couldn’t hear anything other than all these people running towards us. Several of them were calling ‘gun, gun’, so first of all we thought someone had been shot.
In a split second it all kind of changed and everyone just started running and panicking and running for their lives and crying and screaming and we were forced back into the store, told to get away from the windows and to get low on the ground.
We were huddled at the very back of the store lying flat on if floor and were in that position for about 20 minutes with no real understanding of what was happening other than it was incredibly serious.
Resolute with Spain in the fight to defeat terrorism we condemn the terrorist attack in Barcelona. Our love & prayers are with the victims.
My colleague, Julian Borger, has more on the house explosion:
Police officials have suggested there could be a connection between the Barcelona attack and two explosions earlier in the day in a house in Alcanar, a small town in Tarragona about 100km south of Barcelona, in which one person died and 16 people were injured, including police and firefighters who were investigating the first explosion and were hit by a second blast. The explosions had initially been reported as gas explosions.
This is a photograph of the house in Alcanar, Catalonia, which was destroyed by an explosion. Police are now investigating a link between the incident and today’s terror attack.
Neither of the two detained suspects was the driver of the van that crashed into pedestrians in Barcelona, police have said.
Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police officer, said the two suspects in custody were directly linked to the attack, “but that doesn’t mean that either were the author of the attack”.
Catalonian police are now connecting the Las Ramblas van attack with an explosion this morning in Alcanar, a small town in Tarragona about 100km south of Barcelona, in which one person died and several injured, which was reported earlier as a gas explosion
The explosion happened in a house, a Catalan police official said.
My colleagues, Stephen Burgen in Barcelona, Giles Tremlett in Madrid and Ian Cobain in London, have spoken to a number of witnesses.
Tom Markwell, from New Orleans, had just arrived in a taxi when he heard the screaming. “It sounded like they were screaming for a movie star,” he said. “Then I saw the van. It had already been busted on the front. It was weaving left and right, trying to hit people as fast as possible. There were people lying on the ground.”
Reports have emerged suggesting that Driss Oukabir had handed himself into police after seeing his photograph being circulated online and in the media.
He apparently told officers that his identification documents had been stolen before the attack and that he had played no part in it.
Theresa May has released a longer statement, saying the Foreign Office is in close contact with the authorities in Spain.
I am sickened by the senseless loss of life in Barcelona today.
The Foreign Office is working to establish if any British nationals were involved in this appalling incident and we are in close contact with the authorities in Spain, who have our full support.
Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, has declared three days of mourning for the region. He said:
Catalonia has been, and will be, a land of peace. A place of welcome. And we will not let a minority end our way of being that has been forged over centuries.
Tomorrow at noon people will gather in Plaça de Catalunya for a minute’s silence.
If you’ve been affected by the terror attack in Barcelona, you can share your experiences with us.
You can share your eyewitness accounts, photos and videos or news tips in the aricle below. You can also share your stories, photos and videos with the Guardian via WhatsApp by adding the contact +44(0)7867825056.
My colleague, Sam Jones, has this on the only named suspect:
The number of those seriously injured in the van attack has risen to 15, according to Catalonian police. The Press Association is reporting that more than 80 people have been injured. The total number of fatalities remains at 13.
One of the victims of the attack is a Belgian national, Belgium’s deputy prime minister Didier Reynders confirmed on Twitter.
Helaas betreuren wij een Belgisch slachtoffer in #Barcelona. Ik bied de familie en de naasten mijn deelneming aan.
Prominent lawyer and University of Glasgow rector Aamer Anwar was walking in Las Ramblas when he heard a crashing noise followed by screaming.
He said the police were very quickly on the scene following the attack.
I had been to the cathedral and was walking down Las Ramblas for something to eat. Part of it was in the shade so I decided to keep walking down and literally within 10 seconds there was a crashing noise. I turned around and people were screaming. I could see a woman screaming with her kids. People started running and jumping into shops. I ran for about 50 or 100 metres and stopped to see what was happening.
The police were very quickly on the scene and getting people to move back. I could see chaos right at the top area and I spoke to a shopkeeper who had run down and was screaming. He was Bengali so I spoke to him in Urdu and he said a van had driven into a crowd and he thought there were five to six people very seriously injured.
A second van linked to the attack has been found in the small town of Vic in Catalonia, authorities there have said.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Barcelona attack, the group’s Amaq propaganda news agency said.
“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,” the agency said, referring to a United States-led coalition against the Sunni militant group.
The centre of Barcelona remains in lockdown. Crowds of onlookers have gathered at the police tapes that cordon off a large area of the city around Las Ramblas and Plaça de Catalunya.
But most residents have stayed at home, busy checking up on friends and family. Aside from the clatter of a helicopter overhead the streets of this normally lively and noisy city are empty.
It’s tragic, I saw people on the ground who had been run over and other people running and crying. The van drove down the centre running over everyone. We can’t go out now and our guests are scared and crying because they don’t know where their relatives are.
The police wouldn’t let me through until I identified myself as a health worker. What I saw was a total disaster. I saw at least six people dead and I tried to revive a young man but it was impossible.
We were just outside the Hard Rock Café on our way to the Rambla when we saw a white van crashing into people. It threw people into the air.
Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, says there have been two arrests after Barcelona van attack.
Donald Trump responded to the Barcelona attack by reviving an already debunked anecdote about a US general dipping bullets in pig’s blood to fight Islamic militants over a hundred years ago.
After a relatively conventional response to the attack in which he went on to Twitter to call on the people of Barcelona to be “tough and strong” and offer US help, he posted another, more cryptic tweet 45 minutes later saying: “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”
Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!
They were having terrorism problems, just like we do. And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood — you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem.
If you witnessed the attack in Las Ramblas, or have been affected by it, you can share your experiences with us.
French president Emmanuel Macron has voiced solidarity with Spain.
“We remain united and determined,” he said on Twitter, describing it as a “tragic attack”.
Toutes mes pensées et la solidarité de la France pour les victimes de la tragique attaque à #Barcelone. Nous restons unis et déterminés.
Solidaridad con #Barcelona. Estamos a su lado.
In tiefer Trauer sind wir bei den Opfern des widerwärtigen Anschlags in #Barcelona – in Solidarität + Freundschaft an d. Seite der Spanier.
Jason Burke has written a snap analysis on the events in Barcelona, focusing on how painfully familiar the nature of the attack is.
… The use of vehicles as weapons is now an established tactic by extremists, one of the dozen or so employed in the last two decades that should be considered a standard part of the terrorist arsenal. In the past 13 months, there have been similar attacks in France, Germany, Sweden and the UK.
A woman was killed by a car driven at speed by a rightwing extremist in the US last week in slightly different circumstances.
Spanish police have released a photograph of the man alleged to have rented the van used in the attack. He is identified as Driss Oukabir.
Facebook has activated its safety check tool to enable people in Barcelona to let their friends and relatives know they are safe.
Theresa May said the UK “stands with Spain against terror” following the deadly attack in Barcelona.
The prime minister condemned the “terrible” assault, which follows a spate of similar attacks in London in recent months.
My thoughts are with the victims of today’s terrible attack in Barcelona and the emergency services responding to this ongoing incident. The UK stands with Spain against terror.
Thirteen people have been killed, and at least 50 injured, Catalonia’s interior minister Joaquim Forn has confirmed.
A man has been arrested in connection with the van attack, local police confirmed on Thursday evening.
In a tweet, the police also dismissed reports that a suspect had holed himself up in a bar off Las Ramblas.
Witnesses in central Barcelona described a scene of “total chaos” in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
Patrick Tuenter, 20, a law student from Nijmegen, Netherlands, was on the first day of his holiday.
Our hotel, the Pension Solarium, is about 200metres from the scene of the crash. We were coming back from the beach and saw a scene of total chaos. People were screaming, there were a lot of wounded people. We saw a white van stopped in the middle of the street – the part where pedestrians walk down. It had driven right down the middle and thrown people onto the cobbled part of the street, down the sides.
As we walked back to our hotel we saw and heard ambulances and police cars rushing by – over 30 of them within minutes. We saw lots of injured people fleeing the scene. We’re now hearing rumours that there was a second van which got away and is driving round with two people in it.
Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, has tweeted about the attacks. He said he is doing all he can to identify whether any British people need help in Barcelona.
Concerned and saddened by #Barcelona attack. Our thoughts are with those affected. Doing all we can to identify whether Brits need help.
The British Embassy in Madrid and Consulate General in Barcelona are in contact with local authorities and urgently seeking further information following reports of an incident in central Barcelona.
Local authorities have advised people to stay inside and stay away from the Las Ramblas area of the city. If you’re in the immediate area you should take care and follow the advice of the local security authorities; press reports suggest that some public transport, particularly the metro, has been affected.
Donald Trump has condemned the terror attack on Las Ramblas:
The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!
Thoughts and prayers to #Barcelona
An eyewitness has described the painstaking search for suspects.
John Ward, who lives on Las Ramblas, says the area is still on lockdown.
There’s a very heavy police presence and what they’ve been doing is going from establishment to establishment knocking on the doors, knocking on the shutters.
People have opened the shutters, they’ve been brought out on to the street and once it’s been established that they’re not the people they are looking for, they’ve been escorted away from this particular area.
Local media is reporting that one person has been arrested in relation to the attack.
Separate reports said the Guardia Civil have identified the suspect thought to have hired the white Fiat van used in the attack. According to those reports, he is understood to be from north Africa but to possess an NIE, the identity document issued to foreigners who are resident in Spain.
Here’s another shot of the crashed van, taken from a video posted online.
The official death toll for the van attack still stands at one, although local media are reporting that as many as 13 could be dead. Police say 32 people have been injured, 10 of them seriously.
Catalonia’s interior minister Joaquim Forn told reporters: “Unfortunately the number of fatalities will likely rise.”
Spanish public broadcaster RTVE says one suspect in the Barcelona van attack has been arrested.
The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has offered his condolences for the loss of life in Barcelona. He also warned terrorists they would be brought to justice in the wake of the Las Ramblas attack.
Terrorists around the world should know, the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice.
The attack took place in central Barcelona. Las Ramblas, a street of stalls and shops that cuts through the centre of Barcelona, is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. People walk down a wide, pedestrianised path in the centre of the street, but cars can travel on either side.
A video posted to social media shows more than 12 injured people lying on the ground next to souvenir shops in front of Maccabi restaurant in Las Ramblas.
As well as uniformed emergency service personnel, a number of people dressed casually in shorts and t-shirts can be seen offering help and tending to the wounded.
Despite an appeal by Spanish police not to circulate images of those injured in the attack, there have been some graphic videos and images posted to social media this evening, as well as video that appears to depict the movements of armed police as they search for suspects.
Residents of Barcelona, and social media users from further afield, have tried to combat the spread of these images with a seemingly bizarre tactic – flooding the #barcelona hashtag with images of cute kittens.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has tweeted his condolences.
He said: “My thoughts are with the victims of this barbaric terrorist attack in the great city of Barcelona and with their brave emergency services.”
London stands with Barcelona against the evil of terrorism.
Witnesses to the attack in Barcelona described how a white van hurtled through crowds without slowing down.
Many were forced to take shelter in nearby shops and hotels, while others reported hearing gunshots.
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. I ran away, I mean I live near, I had to run back about 50 metres or so and go up to my flat and obviously see what’s happening on the road from my balcony.
We had just finished eating and were about to leave when we heard a commotion and the patrons in the restaurant rushing from their seats. I then saw people running to the east of the restaurant and I saw a couple of people, about 30 yards down the road, crouching around what looked like someone on the ground and they were calling for assistance. Within a couple of minutes, police started to arrive and they were running west of the restaurant and some were telling us to stay inside. Soon after, loads of cars, bikes and ambulances arrived and then the armed police.
For now we don’t know who was responsible for the attack, nor what the motive was.
However, we do know that the use of vehicles to drive into civilians is a mode of attack hugely difficult to stop.
Police have confirmed that one person has died and that 32 people have been injured, 10 of them seriously.
En aquests moments es confirma una víctima mortal i 32 ferits, dels quals 10 greus#Barcelona
In a tweet, Catalan police confirmed they were dealing with a terrorist attack.
“Terrorist attack confirmed,” they said. “The terrorist attack protocol has been activated.”
Es confirma atemptat terrorista. S’ha activat el protocol d’atemptat terrorista
TV3 says it now has “official” confirmation that 13 people are dead. It also says there are dozens of injured.
Eyewitness Lourdes Porcar told TV3 television station that she saw the van running people over. “It was going very fast, without caring about who was in its way,” she said.
The first pictures of the crashed van are appearing online.
Spanish radio station Cadena Ser radio is reporting that at least 13 people have died in the Barcelona incident, citing police sources. Spanish police have not given an official toll.
Aamer Anwar, civil rights lawyer and rector of Glasgow University, was on the Ramblas when the attack happened and ran for his life.
He saw scenes of terror after the attack:
It was jam packed with tourists, it was a beautiful sunny day. I heard a noise, a crashing noise. At the same time there were screams and people started to run. It was like an avalanche of people running, in front and behind me. People were jumping into shops, pulling their children out of prams. There was no room [on the Ramblas], it was swamped with families, children, and tourists. I saw a woman running, when we stopped she was screaming, because she could not see her children. Within 30 seconds I could see police officers with guns. One man told me there were five or six people seriously injured.
TV3 is reporting that “up to” six people are dead, but does not name its sources. The spokeswoman for a chain of 10 restaurants in the area said that some 600 people were stuck inside their restaurants, waiting for permission from the police to leave.
Those people may be having trouble communicating with friends because mobile phone coverage in the area is saturated.
The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice for UK citizens in Barcelona, telling them to avoid Las Ramblas.
“We are in contact with the Spanish authorities and seeking more information following an incident in Barcelona. Anyone in the area should follow the advice of the emergency services,” an FCO spokesperson said.
On the travel advice page for Spain on the FCO website, the updated advice says:
The British embassy in Madrid and consulate general in Barcelona are in contact with local authorities and urgently seeking further information following reports of an incident in central Barcelona.
Local authorities have advised people to stay inside and stay away from the Las Ramblas area of the city. If you’re in the immediate area you should take care and follow the advice of the local security authorities; press reports suggest that some public transport, particularly the metro, has been affected.
Spanish police have confirmed that an unknown number of people have died in the incident in Las Ramblas.
Local media have given various, unconfirmed tolls for the dead and injured.
18:15 Hi ha víctimes mortals i ferits arran de l’atropellament. NO hi ha hagut cap tiroteig a El Corte Inglés. Seguiu fonts oficials
The Spanish emergency services have told people in the area of Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona to stay where they are until told by police that they can leave.
Si os encontráis Si os encontráis en la zona de Plaza Cataluña en Barcelona quedaos donde estéis hasta que la policía diga que podéis salir
A producer at Sky News is at the scene on Las Ramblas and sent this dispatch:
Sky producer Mike Mawhinney said:
All around Las Ramblas, about three blocks off it, the streets are being completely locked off, people pushed back.
They’re searching the area for anything else, so obviously there’s the story you just mentioned about the restaurant, obviously a possible development.
The president of the government of Catalonia has called for “maximum caution” in the wake of the attack. He added that “all the attention” should be on the victims of the attack.
Around 80 people are currently sheltering in a church in Barcelona near the incident. Witnesses say that the doors are currently locked as reports circulate that there are possibly two armed men in a bar in the local area.
The Spanish police have asked people not to circulate images of the injured out of respect for their families.
Por respeto a las víctimas y a sus familias, por favor, NO compartas imágenes de heridos en atropello de #Ramblas de Barcelona
Jordi Lino, who was on a bus going down Las Ramblas, said:
First I saw people running and then the van. There were injured people in the middle of the Ramblas.
The Ministry of the Interior said on Twitter: “There has just been a massive crash on the Ramblas in Barcelona by a person with a van. There are injured.”
Police in Barcelona have asked people around Plaça Catalunya to stay indoors. They have urged those concerned about friends and family to use social media, rather than mobile phone calls, to get in touch with friends and relatives to avoid overloading phone networks.
A witness has described seeing people lying on the ground after the crash.
Steven Turner, who works in the area, told the BBC:
People in my office saw a van ramming into people on La Ramblas. I saw about three or four people laying on the ground.
There are lots of ambulances and armed police with assault rifles around now.
The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, says he is in contact with all authorities following the Barcelona van crash and says the priority is to attend to the injured.
En contacto con todas las administraciones. Prioridad: atender heridos en Las Ramblas y facilitar la labor de las Fuerzas de Seguridad. MR
People on social media have been sharing videos of the crash on Las Ramblas, an area popular with tourists and locals. The videos appear to show people running away from cafes and restaurants.
Estampida ahora mismo en El Corte Inglés de Plaza Catalunya en Barcelona pic.twitter.com/72LLRmJjRk
Reuters are quoting local media as saying two armed men have entered a restaurant in Barcelona after the van crash. At the moment this news is only from a single source.
A van has crashed into pedestrians on Las Ramblas in the heart of Barcelona, which attracts thousands of tourists every day.
Police have said there has been a major incident in the key tourist spot and have confirmed it is being treated as a “terrorist attack”. It is understood that police have requested that metro stations be closed.
Four terrorism suspects have been shot dead by police in the town of Cambrils, in a security operation linked to Thursday’s van attack in Barcelona in which 13 people died and more than 80 were injured.
A fifth suspect was injured in the town, which lies 120km along the coast from Barcelona, the scene of the latest attack where a vehicle was turned into a lethal weapon. In Barcelona, witnesses spoke of panic and seeing people covered in blood, as victims lay dying in Las Ramblas, one of the city’s busiest tourist boulevards.
The police described it as a terrorist attack “aimed at killing as many people as possible” and linked it to explosions the previous night that destroyed a house in Alcanar, about 200km south-east of Barcelona, that killed one person in the house and wounded another. Police and firefighters who came to the scene were wounded by a second blast.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place on Thursday afternoon when a large white Fiat van veered off the road at the top of La Rambla into a crowd of unsuspecting people.
The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, said the whole country country stood in solidarity with Barcelona, blaming “jihadi terrorism”.
Senior police official Josep Lluís Trapero said two suspects had been detained on Thursday. He said neither was the driver of the van used in the Barcelona attack, who fled on foot and was still thought to be at large. Trapero said it did not appear the driver was armed.
One of the arrested men was Driss Oukabir, a 28-year-old Moroccan initially named as a suspect. Later on Thursday evening, however, reports emerged suggesting that Oukabir had handed himself into police after seeing his photograph being circulated online and in the media. He apparently told officers that his identification documents had been stolen before the attack and that he had played no part in it. He was then arrested in the town of Ripoll where he lives about 100km north of Barcelona.
The other detained suspect was a Spaniard born in the north African enclave of Melilla. He was held in Alcanar.
The use of vehicles as weapons is now a well-established tactic and has been used in attacks in France, Germany, Sweden and the UK in the past 13 months.
The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, cancelled his holiday in Galicia, north-west Spain, to return to Madrid. The Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, and the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, also cut short their holidays to return to the city, as the regional government announced an emergency meeting. The Catalan authorities have declared three days of mourning and a minute’s silence is to be held in Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya on Friday.
La Rambla is the boulevard known to all visitors to Barcelona. Leading down from the large, open Plaça de Catalunya, the tree-lined boulevard is a shady release from the beating heat of the square.
At almost any time of the day, the area is full of people buying newspapers, postcards and souvenirs in the kiosks or looking at the flower stalls. Early on Thursday afternoon, with locals mostly away on holiday, a large number of those people were tourists.
At around 5pm, a large white Fiat van veered off the road at the top of the street and drove straight into the crowd milling around near the entrance to the Plaça de Catalunya metro station.
It sped down the central, pedestrian zone of the boulevard towards the port, ploughing its way through the crowd as people fled in panic.
About 500 metres down the boulevard, shortly after the famous Boqueria food market and before the Liceu opera house, the pavement is adorned with a colourful mosaic by artist Joan Miró. It was at here that the van, with its front bumper smashed, came to a halt. The pavement behind it was littered with injured people and 13 people were dead or dying. Several pushchairs could be seen abandoned at the side of the street.
Albert Tort, an off-duty nurse who was one of the first on the scene, said he tried to give an Italian tourist life-saving treatment, but there was nothing he could do. “The pavement was full of bodies,” he told TV3.
Other witnesses spoke of panic as people fled the scene. Jordi Lino, who was on a bus, said: “First I saw people running and then the van. There were injured people in the middle of Las Ramblas.”
Lourdes Porcar told Spanish TV that she saw the van running people over. “It was going very fast, without caring about who was in its way,” she said.
Patrick Tuenter, 20, a law student from Nijmegen, the Netherlands, was on the first day of his holiday. He reported “a scene of total chaos”, as he returned from the beach. “People were screaming, there were a lot of wounded people,” he told the Guardian.
At least 600 people were stuck inside restaurants in the area waiting for permission to leave, as police locked down the area and warned people to stay away.
In the panicked moments after the attack, rumours flew around the city, including reports of gunfire in El Corte Inglés department store – later confirmed as untrue by local police, who advised people to follow official sources for updates.
Catalan emergency services advised people to stay away from the area around Plaça de Catalunya. Police asked people to communicate via social media and messaging instead of phone calls, as mobile telephone coverage was saturated.
More than 1,000 people used Facebook volunteering to help the victims, with offers ranging from water to shelter and translation.
A second van – presumed to be a getaway vehicle – which had been hired at the same time as the Fiat from the Telefurgo rental company in Sabadell, near Barcelona, was found 80km away in Vic an hour and a half later.
Islamic State claimed responsibility using the group’s Amaq news agency. “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,” the agency said, referring to a United States-led coalition against the militant group.
Spain suffered what is still Europe’s deadliest jihadi attack in March 2004, when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people in an attack claimed by al-Qaida-inspired extremists. But until Thursday, Spain had escaped the more recent wave of extremist violence that has struck France, Belgium, Germany and the UK.
Terrorists have turned vehicles into weapons in France, Germany, Sweden and the UK in the past year; most recently when a car was driven into a crowd protesting against a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in what was described by Republican senator Marco Rubio as ““terror attack by white supremacists”.
Last July, 86 people were killed in Nice when a 19-ton truck mowed down people on the beach promenade. A Christmas market in Berlin was the scene of a similar atrocity in December, when 12 people were killed by a truck packed with steel.
In April, five people died after a lorry attack in a busy shopping area in central Stockholm. In June, a speeding van hit pedestrians on London Bridge before attackers launched a knife attack in cafes and restaurants at Borough market. Eight people died in the attack, while at least 48 were wounded.
Isis claimed responsibility for the attacks in Nice, Berlin and London Bridge. The Uzbek national suspected of the Swedish lorry attack had expressed sympathy for the group.
According to western intelligence officials, Islamist propaganda has switched its tactics, from calling on people to travel to Syria to join a self-declared caliphate, to urging them to carry out attacks in the countries where they live.
Such vehicle attacks generally require very little planning, and no wider network, leaving little or no opportunity for the authorities to detect and stop them.
As details of the attack emerged, condolences poured in from around the world, with a typically controversial response from Donald Trump. The US president revived an already debunked anecdote about a US general dipping bullets in pig’s blood to fight Islamic militants more than 100 years ago.
The British prime minister, Theresa May, said the UK stood with Spain against terror and Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, said: “I hold a special thought for the heroic people who responded by running towards danger to help others and to the security forces who are working to keep the population safe.”
Additional reporting: Sam Jones