Police have confirmed people have died after a van ploughed into a crowd of people in Las Ramblas area of Barcelona, in what police say was a terror attack.
Spanish media reported at least two people have died but police have not yet confirmed the number of casualties.
Authorities said the vehicle mounted a pavement and struck people in a “massive crash” in an area of the city that is popular with tourists.
El Periodico newspaper reported there were between 20 and 25 people injured, citing police sources.
The El Pais newspaper reported that the driver of the vehicle had fled on foot and that police are looking for a man about 1.70 metres tall, wearing a white and blue stripped shirt.
The Reuters news agency reported that two armed men had entered a restaurant in the city centre after the van crash. One witness told The Independent he had heard a hostage situation was unfolding.
It is unclear whether those men were involved in the crash.
The van entered the pedestrian street from Placa de Catalunya and crashed into a kiosk on La Rambla.
Emergency services said people should not go to the area and requested the closure of nearby train and metro stations.
Daniela Goicoechea, who was walking along La Rambla with three children aged one, two and five, told The Independent: “People started running but we didn’t know what was happening. There was a lot of people running. Then policemen began chasing people. We were lost, we ran with three babies and hid in a cafe nearby.”
Videos of the scene posted on social media show people screaming as they run away from Las Ramblas district.
I was just riding my bike to the right of the Ramblas when a large white van came racing down the promenade plowing into everyone…in shock
— Dubfire (@dubfire) August 17, 2017
Total panic – we are all getting pushed back- la Ramblas pic.twitter.com/1MwYLfFZJc
— Aamer Anwar (@AamerAnwar) August 17, 2017
Aamer Anwar was walking down Las Ramblas at the time, which he said was “jam-packed” with tourists.
He told Sky News: “All of a sudden, I just sort of heard a crashing noise and the whole street just started to run, screaming. I saw a woman right next to me screaming for her kids.
“Police were very, very quickly there, police officers with guns, batons, everywhere. Then the whole street started getting pushed back.”
Pictures of the van show a white vehicle with the logo of the rental company Telefurgo on its side.
While full details of the incident were not immediately clear, since July 2016 vehicles have been used to ram into crowds in a series of militant attacks across Europe, killing well over 100 people in Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm.
There have been no previous terror attacks claimed by Isis in Spain, where almost 200 people were killed by al-Qaeda inspired terrorists in the Madrid bombings in 2004.
The terrorist group has issued repeated calls for followers to attack “disbelievers” in the West, including detailed guidance on how to carry out vehicle attacks in high-profile public places. Via Independent
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