Just a few hours after a van drove into a crowd in Barcelona’s famous Las Ramblas Boulevard, the Spanish Police claims to have thwarted a second terror attack.
According to police, five suspects wearing explosives were killed after a shootout with the security forces in the coastal town of Cambrils, about 70 km southwest of Barcelona. This shootout seriously injured six civilians along with a police officer.
The shootout took place just hours after Barcelona’s tranquility was shattered on Thursday afternoon by a bloody vehicular attack that killed 13 people and prompted a manhunt. As of today morning, the driver’s whereabouts have not yet been traced.
The shootout in the coastal town of Cambrils is not the only terror attack alongside the Barcelona tragedy that rocked the entire country. A house explosion further down the coast in Alcanar was seemingly a precursor to these two deadly events and even killed one civilian. Also, Thursday saw another attack on policemen as two office officers were hit by an unknown car. However, the police are yet to be assured if that was related to the back to back terror attacks.
Interestingly, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, the Islamic State has taken responsibility for the terror attack at Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona. Although ISIS’ media wing, Amaq, said the perpetrators of the Barcelona attack were “soldiers of the Islamic State,” ISIS has yet not explicitly claimed responsibility for it.
As per the latest reports, one Moroccan native and another from the Spanish enclave Melilla were arrested by the police in connection with the Las Ramblas attack. However, one more suspect is on the run as the driver abandoned the van midway and escaped from the area.
On Thursday evening, a van came out of nowhere and slammed into scores of people as it drove down the famous pedestrian walkway that runs down the middle of Las Ramblas. According to an eyewitness:
It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowd, in the middle of the Ramblas.
Calling it an act of “jihadi terrorism”, the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Twitter that the priority of the hour is “tending to the wounded in Las Ramblas and facilitating the work of security forces.” He also declared a three-day mourning period in his midnight speech. He said:
We have fought many battles against terrorism throughout history. We have always beaten them. In this moment, the Spanish will win again…. “Today, the fight against terrorism is the principle priority of free and open societies like ours. It is a global threat and the answer must be global.
Regarded as one of the most peaceful countries in the European Union, Spain has never witnessed a deadlier attack than this one on Las Ramblas in over a decade, not after more than 190 people were killed in a March 2004 attack against commuter trains.