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ISIS claims responsibility for Barcelona attack that killed 12, injured 80

Scene of Barcelona van crash
Posted at 4:30 PM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-17 16:30:00-04

(RNN) - A van jumped a curb and ran over many people in Las Ramblas, a promenade and a large tourist attraction in Barcelona, Spain. ISIS claimed responsibility for the terror attack on its news agency's Amaq.

ISIS often claims responsibility for such attacks, even when they turn out to be carried out by individuals with no connection to the extremist group.

CNN reported that two suspects have been taken into custody following the attack.

The casualty numbers have steadily grown as more news became available. Barcelona officials said 12 people were killed and another 80 injured. Catalonia’s regional interior chief Joaquim Forn told the AP, “Unfortunately the number of fatalities will likely rise.”

As many as four armed men reportedly fled the scene in the horror an confusion, leaving a rented white van at the scene. They ran into a nearby restaurant, where witnesses said they heard gunfire.

The AP said the suspects were "holed up in a bar," and a witness in a restaurant overlooking the area said to MSNBC that she had seen some hostages released. Authorities have since said no one was "entrenched in any bar" in central Barcelona, and that they had someone in custody.

Multiple sources and news agencies have confirmed the incident as a terrorist attack.

In the early aftermath of the attack, Spanish police called the incident a "massive crash," and urged people to stay away from the area around Placa Catalunya, one of the most visited sites in Barcelona. One Canadian visitor who had been there an hour before the incident said there were throngs of people milling about as one might see at Times Square in New York.

Downtown areas were evacuated, and subway stops near the area closed.

Emergency response teams flooded the area to treat the injured. Graphic video and photographs posted on social media showed many people lying motionless on the ground, some in pools of blood.

Las Ramblas is a pedestrian mall that stretches about 3/4 of a mile through the city, connecting Placa de Catalunya to the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell on the Mediterranean.

A 20-year-old student who lives in Barcelona told the BBC, "There was a loud noise and everybody ran for cover. There were a lot of people, lots of families (at the site)... I think several people were hit. It was horrible. There was panic. Terrible."

People quickly took shelter in nearby cafes and shops. Esparcia said he was taking cover inside a Starbucks.

Facebook started a "Safety Check" for the affected area, and urges those who can offer help to volunteer. Users in the area can check in, notifying loved ones that they are safe.

President Donald Trump responded to the attack in a tweet.

Vehicle attacks in 2017

The attack is the latest in a series of attackers using vehicles as a weapon in 2017. On Jan. 8, an Arab citizen of Israel truck ran into soldiers in south east Jerusalem, killing one male and three female soldiers. Fifteen others were killed.

A hijacked truck plowed over pedestrians before crashing into a department store in Stockholm, Sweden on April 7. Five people were killed, 14 injured. Swedish police said the attacker was a rejected asylum seeker from Uzbekistan and sympathized with the Islamic State.

London has had three vehicle-related terror attacks this year.

  • On March 22, an attacker drove over pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, turning in front of Parliament where he stabbed a police officer before he was shot and killed. The attack was apparently in retaliation for the West’s military presence in Muslim countries.
  • A couple of months later on June 3, three men drove over pedestrians on the London Bridge before running into a restaurant area and stabbing people. Eight people were killed, 48 were injured. Police said the attackers were Islamic State sympathizers.
  • On June 19, a van driven by Darren Osborne rammed pedestrians near the Finsbury Park Mosque during Ramadan. One was killed, 10 were injured. Osborne said the attack was retribution for London Bridge.

In Paris, also on June 19, a car containing guns and explosives rammed a police vehicle on the Champs-Elysees. The driver named Djaziri Adam Lofti, who pledged his support to the Islamic State was killed by police

On Aug. 9 in in Levallois-Perret, a suburb of Paris, a car rammed a group of soldiers injuring six. French police caught the assailant on a highway a few hours later.

James Fields is charged with ramming his Dodge Charger into other cars and plowing over people who were protesting white supremacists. One woman, Heather Heyer, was killed, 20 others were injured.

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