Note: All given times are Eastern.
1:45 p.m. – Media have pieced together a more detailed description of the terrorist attack today in Barcelona. Witnesses told local media that a white van jumped the curb near Plaza de Catalunya and then was driven in a zig-zag pattern at a high rate of speed along the Las Ramblas. Based on the van’s zig-zag pattern, it’s believed that the driver wanted to cause as much damage as possible and injure or kill as many people as they could.
The van was driven about 500 meters along the Las Ramblas, a walkway that’s typically filled with pedestrians. The path is lined with shops and stalls. The vehicle then crashed into a kiosk, where the driver reportedly jumped out of the van and fled the scene on foot.
There’s still a lot of confusion about how many people were hurt or injured in the attack. Local media peg the death toll at as high as 13, although other media outlets cite police sources as saying that at least one person was killed and 32 were injured, 10 of whom were critically hurt.
Police are appealing to social media users and asking them not to post graphic images and videos of the incident, but many people have already done so. Residents of Barcelona are trying to combat that by using the hashtag #barcelona to post pictures of kittens, a tactic that’s similar to one used by social media users in Belgium a couple of years ago during another terrorist attack.
At this time, no terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and no motive is apparent. Local Spanish media report that the driver and possible one other gunmen are still holed up inside a restaurant or bar near the scene of the attack, although police aren’t confirming that to all media outlets.
The use of vehicles as instruments of terror and destruction is on the rise. Attacks using vehicles have been carried out in multiple countries.
1 p.m. – Police have reportedly surrounded Luna Istanbul Restaurant in Barcelona where two gunmen have apparently taken hostages following the deadly rampage involving a white van. Some video from the scene near the restaurant seems to suggest that the gunmen have let at least some of the hostages go. However, it’s unclear whether police have taken them into custody yet.
Media reports now peg the casualties at 13 dead and 20 others injured in the van crash a short while ago. It’s believed that one of the two gunmen at the restaurant drove the white van through the crowd near Las Ramblas, while the other gunmen may have been inside the van.
12:55 p.m. – Horrific images are emerging from the scene of the van attack in Barcelona where people were left bloody after the deadly crash. The reported death toll has now climbed to 13 people, and now there is a second scene that may be related to the vehicle attack.
Local media are now reporting that there’s a hostage situation at a Turkish restaurant not far from the Barcelona city center near the Boqueria food market. Witnesses reported gunfire in the area, according to El Periodico. Two gunmen are said to be inside Luna Istanbul Restaurant, and they may be holding hostages. It’s unclear whether the incident at the restaurant is related to the crash of the white van, but some media outlets are reporting that the gunmen may have been in the van when it plowed through the crowd.
12:40 p.m. – The death toll in the van attack in the Las Ramblas district appears to have now climbed to at least two, according to NPR, which cites Barcelona police. The vehicle is reported to have plowed into dozens of people. Restaurants and shops in the Placa Catalunya area have shut down for the day. Catalan police tweeted a description of the incident as a “massive trampling … by a person with a van.”
Police are now searching for the driver, who fled the scene. They’re urging people in the area to remain calm. Law enforcement is officially treating the incident as an act of terrorism, according to El Pais.
Placa Catalunya, which is where the crash occurred, is a public square in the city center of Barcelona, and in addition to being a popular tourist attraction, it’s also a major transportation hub in the city. Las Ramblas is a well-known pedestrian walkway that leads into Placa Catalunya.
12:30 p.m. – Local media reports are now saying that the van killed at least one person and injured about 20 others. According to Barcelona police, the van was driven onto the sidewalk in the city’s Las Ramblas district, which is frequented by tourists. Officials are calling it an attack, and law enforcement is actively searching for the driver. Police urge those who are in Barcelona to avoid the Placa Catalunya area, and emergency personnel are telling people who are there to stay inside until police say that it is safe for them to leave.
A video that was tweeted right after the accident show a sidewalk with some pedestrians along the road. Some are bending over people who seem to have been hit by the van, while emergency personnel work to help others. Stray shoes and other items are also shown along the sidewalk.
Multiple people are down after a van was driven through a crowd in Las Ramblas, a well-known tourist area in Barcelona. Early reports suggest at least two people have been killed and many others have been injured. Police in Barcelona are telling the media that they believe the incident to be terrorism-related.
People who are in the area of the incident are tweeting about it.
PLEASE NOTE: The video included in this tweet may be disturbing to some.
— Anna Ahronheim (@AAhronheim) August 17, 2017