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Police Kill 5 ‘Terrorists’ in Resort Near Barcelona Hours After Van Attack

  • VOA News

Police (not pictured) evacuate people after a van crashed into pedestrians near the Las Ramblas avenue in central Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 17, 2017.

Police early Friday shot and killed five suspected terrorists in Cambrils, a Spanish resort city south of Barcelona, where a terrorist drove a van into pedestrians, killing 13 and injuring 100.

Four of the suspects were killed at the scene of the operation police said was a response to a terrorist attack. Officials said six civilians were also injured.

Police in Spain’s Catalonia region, of which Barcelona is the capital, are working on the theory that the Cambrils and Barcelona attacks are connected.

In Cambrils, media reports said a car crashed into a police vehicle and nearby civilians and police shot the attackers, one brandishing a knife. Police did not immediately describe how the attack was carried out.

Catalan Interior Minister Joaquin Forn told local radio RAC1 early Friday that the Cambrils attack “follows the same trail” as the Barcelona attack. “There is a connection.”

The suspected van is towed away from the area where it crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 18, 2017.
The suspected van is towed away from the area where it crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 18, 2017.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Barcelona attack. Catalan police say two people are in custody — one from Morocco and the other from the Spanish enclave of Melilla, which shares a border with Morocco on the northern coast of Africa.

But the van driver is still at large, Forn confirmed, and it’s unclear exactly how the two in custody are connected with the attack.

Catalonia house blast

Police also said Thursday’s van attack is tied to an explosion in a house in Catalonia Wednesday that killed one person. Authorities believe those in the house were building an explosive device that went off, leading to speculation that a larger terror plot may have been in the works.

Also Thursday, a car ran down two policemen at a Barcelona checkpoint, but it is unclear if there is any connection to the earlier attack.

Witnesses said the driver deliberately drove into a pedestrian area that runs down the center of Las Ramblas, a Barcelona street with shops and cafes, popular with locals and tourists.

They said the van was traveling at high speed and swerved from side to side, leaving a trail of blood and bodies with twisted, broken legs.

Some witness said two armed men jumped out and disappeared into a restaurant.

Police arrived almost instantly and immediately shut down the area.

Catalan police say the driver was trying to kill as many people as possible.

But Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau said the terrorists have failed.

“Barcelona has always been and still is a city of peace, a city of dialogue, a brave city, a city open to the world, a city that’s proud of its diversity. ... To the cowards who tried to spread terror, hatred and fear today: you won’t get it,” she said.

Barcelona's Mayor Ada Colau speaks to the press on the Rambla boulevard after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring around 100 others on the Rambla in Barcelona, Aug. 17, 2017.
Barcelona's Mayor Ada Colau speaks to the press on the Rambla boulevard after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring around 100 others on the Rambla in Barcelona, Aug. 17, 2017.

‘Jihadist terrorism’

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy calls the van attack “jihadist terrorism.”

“Today, the fight against terrorism is the principal priority for free and open societies like ours. It is a global threat and the response has to be global,” Rajoy told reporters.

U.S. President Donald Trump turned to Twitter to say, “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough and strong. We love you.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned, “Terrorists around the world should know, the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice.”

A spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and sent condolences to the victims, saying the U.N. stands in solidarity with Spain.

Watch: US Officials Condemn Barcelona Van Attack, Offer Assistance to Spain

The yellow and red colors of the Spanish flag lit up Tel Aviv’s City Hall Thursday night while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the civilized world must fight terrorism together and defeat it.

European leaders, including British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron, are also condemning the attack.

In photos: Van Crashes into Crowd in Barcelona

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