According to news reports on Thursday, a large vehicle hit pedestrians in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, a popular tourist district in the Spanish city. El Nacional reported that up to 20 people have been injured in a "massive crash," according to local police, and multiple outlets have cited local media reports that at least two people have been killed.
Crowds of people reportedly fled the scene when the van struck Las Ramblas, causing a stampede. El Nacional and El Pais both reported that the driver of the van fled on foot after crashing into dozens of people, though it has not been confirmed whether or not they are still at large. According to the Associated Press, Al Jazeera, and El Pais, however, unnamed police sources have reportedly said that the perpetrators of the van collision are holed up in a bar on Barcelona's Tallers Street. Local police have not yet confirmed this report.
Metro and train stations in the vicinity of Barcelona's Plaça Catalunya have reportedly been closed for security reasons, and emergency services personnel have requested that people not go near the affected area. A Catalan police spokesman told CNN that Las Ramblas has also been sealed off following the collision as a helicopter hovered overhead.
According to The Telegraph, social media users have posted photos of what appear to be people lying on the ground and having their injuries treated. One witness to the collision, a lawyer named Aamer Anwar, described the scene to Sky News:
"All of a sudden I heard a crashing noise, and the whole street just started to run screaming," Anwar said. "I saw a woman next to me screaming for her kids."
Shortly after the collision, Sky News and Agence France Presse both reported that local police had described the incident as a "terrorist attack." Sky News also tweeted that two armed men had entered a restaurant in Barcelona following the collision on Las Ramblas. This news has been confirmed by Reuters.
Since last July, similar attacks involving large vehicles have been staged all over Europe, and more than 100 people have been killed in Nice, Berlin, London, and Stockholm.
The last time a major terrorist attack took place in Spain was in 2004, when an Al-Qaeda-inspired cell blew up a Madrid commuter train. That attack killed 192 people and was the deadliest attack in Europe for decades.
More to come...