14 dead in twin attacks as Spanish police launch manhunt
BARCELONA: Spanish police hunted Friday for the driver who crashed a truck into a crowd of pedestrians on a busy avenue in Barcelona, hours before a second such attack in a nearby complex in the two attacks that have left 14 dead and More than 100 injured.
Police said they killed five suspected “terrorists” during the night and the other three were arrested, while Spain mounted the double tragedy in Barcelona and Cambrils, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south.
But the driver responsible for the carnage in Spain’s second largest city remained free, warned authorities, while police said they believed the two attacks were linked.
At a decisive moment, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, King Felipe VI and the president of Catalonia, where the two places are, had a moment of silence in Barcelona, followed by applause and shouts of “no fear”.
Both attacks followed the same mode of operation, drivers who deliberately targeted pedestrians with their vehicles, hitting them on the ground or sending them flying in the last attack in Europe, where cars and vans were used as weapons of terror before.
Javier Zaragoza, prosecutor advised the Attorney General against terrorism, told AFP that the attacks were probably the work of a “cell” organized.
Otso Iho of Jane Terrorism and Insurgency Center says that it appears to be “a much higher level of coordination than was typically present in earlier attacks.”
At a further turning point, police say an explosion in a house in another part of Catalonia Wednesday night could be linked to the attacks, in the belief that people “were preparing an explosive device.”
While world leaders have come together to condemn violence, the Islamic group’s propaganda agency QAMA said that one of its “soldiers” ramps carried out in Barcelona.
In the incident in Barcelona, a white van accelerated the popular Ramblas full of tourists Thursday afternoon, beat and kill 13 people in a scene of chaos and horror.
The driver left the vehicle on the bustling boulevard full of shops and restaurants, and fled on foot.
Witnesses described how the van pushed the crowd, leaving bodies scattered along the boulevard, while others have fled their lives, screaming from panic scenes of chaos and confusion.
“We were on the city tour bus, we were 20 feet from the accident when it happened. We heard the truck and the impact with the people, so we saw people running,” said Alex Luque, a 19-year-old student from New York.
“We separated from my grandparents and had to take my younger sister to try to find security,” he said Friday, adding that he had been reunited with his family.
Thus, eight hours later, the attackers struck again in the early hours of Friday morning, this time in the coastal town of Cambrils, where an Audi A3 car collided with pedestrians, wounding six civilians and a policeman. One of the civilians died later.