A rented white Fiat van crashed through crowded streets in Barcelona late Thursday afternoon, killing at least 12 and leaving dozens injured in what police are calling a terrorist attack.
The attack comes at the height of the season in one of Europe’s top tourist destinations. According to news reports, the van deliberately plowed into pedestrians on the famous Las Ramblas, a tourist hot spot in the center of Barcelona. The boulevard runs from the city’s Plaça de Catalunya (Catalonia Square) to the Christopher Columbus monument at the seafront, near MB92 shipyard and OneOcean Port Vell Marina. The area is an increasingly popular staging point for yachts.
The van reportedly entered the boulevard where it meets the Plaça de Catalunya, then drove towards the port area. Witnesses described chaos and panic as hundreds of people tried to flee. Latest reports indicate 12 dead and 80 hospitalized.
Catalonia’s regional president confirmed in a news conference that two people have been arrested. It was not immediately clear how many people were involved in the attack, which was claimed by Islamic State on its propaganda news channel.
Authorities sealed the area and were warning people to stay away. Metro stations and shops close to the site of the crash were shut down, and city officials had ordered all public events to be canceled.