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TERRORISM

Barcelona terror attack: What we know so far

A driver deliberately rammed a white van into pedestrians on one of Barcelona's most popular boulevards on Thursday, killing 13 people in what Spanish police called a "terrorist attack"

Barcelona terror attack: What we know so far
Photos: AFP

What happened?

Around 5pm (1500 GMT), a vehicle slammed into a crowd of pedestrians on the famous Las Ramblas boulevard.

The promenade in the heart of the city centre is one of the city's busiest streets, normally thronged with tourists and street performers until well into the night.

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Who are the victims?

Regional interior minister Joaquim Forn said at least 13 people had died and more than 50 were injured in the attack.   

Belgium's Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said on Twitter a Belgian national was among those killed in Barcelona. He told Belgian media the victim was a woman.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry also said in a statement that three Dutch citizens had been injured in the attack and were “in contact with their relatives”.

“They are out of danger and have been taken to a hospital,” the ministry said.

A Greek diplomat in the city said three nationals had been injured — a woman and her two children.

The suspect

Police in the Spanish region of Catalonia where Barcelona is located said on Twitter they have arrested one man and are treating the incident as a “terrorist attack”.

He has been named as Driss Oukabir, originally from Marseilles in France and has been living in the Catalan city of Girona.

Initially a police source said one suspect had fled to a nearby bar, but this was later denied.

 

One witness told Spain's TVE television he saw the suspect when the van stopped.

“It was a person in their 20s, he is very young, brown hair, a slim face.”

How did authorities respond?

Emergency services quickly arrived on the scene and cordoned off the area, with several ambulances and police vehicles responding.

The city also closed down metro stations in the area, with authorities telling people to stay away from the area.   

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted that he was in contact with the local authorities, saying the priority was to help the victims and facilitate the work of security forces.

Police appealed to people to stay in their homes and avoid unnecessary trips.

Previous attacks in Spain

Spain was hit by what is still Europe's deadliest jihadist attack in March 2004, when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people in an attack claimed by Al Qaeda-inspired extremists.

In July 2015, a hooded attacker opened fire outside a hotel in downtown Barcelona near Las Ramblas boulevard, leaving two people injured, police said.   

No suspected motive for the attack was given.

ENVIRONMENT

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.

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