Police confirm fatalities and say suspect has been identified, after incident in Spanish city that is being treated as terror attack

Full report: van hits crowd in city centre

7.44pm BST

Jason Burke has written a snap analysis on the events in Barcelona, focusing on how painfully familiar the nature of the attack is.

… The use of vehicles as weapons is now an established tactic by extremists, one of the dozen or so employed in the last two decades that should be considered a standard part of the terrorist arsenal. In the last 13 months there have been similar attacks in France, Germany, Sweden and the UK.

A woman was killed by a car driven at speed by a rightwing extremist in the US last week in slightly different circumstances.

Related: Nature of Las Ramblas attack provides harsh lessons in fight against terror

7.37pm BST

Spanish police have released a photograph of the man alleged to have rented the van used in the attack. He is identified as Driss Oukabir.

7.31pm BST

Facebook has activated its safety check tool to enable people in Barcelona to let their friends and relatives know they are safe.

Facebook has activated Safetycheck 4 users that are in #BCN, so you can inform friends & family that you are wellhttps://t.co/rzji0W3BYt

7.29pm BST

Theresa May said the UK “stands with Spain against terror” following the deadly attack in Barcelona.

The prime minister condemned the “terrible” assault, which follows a spate of similar attacks in London in recent months.

My thoughts are with the victims of today’s terrible attack in Barcelona and the emergency services responding to this ongoing incident. The UK stands with Spain against terror.

7.26pm BST

Thirteen people have been killed, and at least 50 injured, Catalonia’s interior minister Joaquim Forn has confirmed.

La meva més rotunda condemna a l’atemptat terrorista de Barcelona. Podem confirmar 13 morts i més de 50 ferits. @mossos @solercampins pic.twitter.com/va0IlQejb0

7.19pm BST

A man has been arrested in connection with the van attack, local police confirmed on Thursday evening.

In a tweet, the police also dismissed reports that a suspect had holed himself up in a bar off Las Ramblas.

No hi ha ningú atrinxerat a cap bar del centre de Barcelona. Hem detingut un home i ho tractem com atac terrorista #Barcelona #Rambles

7.17pm BST

Eyewitnesses in central Barcelona described a scene of “total chaos” in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

Patrick Tuenter, 20, a law student from Nijmegen, Netherlands, was on the first day of his holiday.

Our hotel, the Pension Solarium, is about 200metres from the scene of the crash. We were coming back from the beach and saw a scene of total chaos. People were screaming, there were a lot of wounded people. We saw a white van stopped in the middle of the street – the part where pedestrians walk down. It had driven right down the middle and thrown people onto the cobbled part of the street, down the sides.

As we walked back to our hotel we saw and heard ambulances and police cars rushing by – over 30 of them within minutes. We saw lots of injured people fleeing the scene. We’re now hearing rumours that there was a second van which got away and is driving round with two people in it.

7.13pm BST

Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, has tweeted about the attacks. He said he is doing all he can to identify whether any British people need help in Barcelona.

Concerned and saddened by #Barcelona attack. Our thoughts are with those affected. Doing all we can to identify whether Brits need help.

The British Embassy in Madrid and Consulate General in Barcelona are in contact with local authorities and urgently seeking further information following reports of an incident in central Barcelona.

Local authorities have advised people to stay inside and stay away from the Las Ramblas area of the city. If you’re in the immediate area you should take care and follow the advice of the local security authorities; press reports suggest that some public transport, particularly the metro, has been affected.

7.07pm BST

Donald Trump has condemned the terror attack on Las Ramblas:

The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!

Thoughts and prayers to #Barcelona

7.04pm BST

An eyewitness has described the painstaking search for suspects.

John Ward, who lives on Las Ramblas, says the area is still on lockdown.

There’s a very heavy police presence and what they’ve been doing is going from establishment to establishment knocking on the doors, knocking on the shutters.

People have opened the shutters, they’ve been brought out on to the street and once it’s been established that they’re not the people they are looking for, they’ve been escorted away from this particular area.

7.01pm BST

Local media is reporting that one person has been arrested in relation to the attack.

Separate reports said the Guardia Civil have identified the suspect thought to have hired the white Fiat van used in the attack. According to those reports, he is understood to be from north Africa but to possess an NIE, the identity document issued to foreigners who are resident in Spain.

6.59pm BST

Here’s another shot of the crashed van, taken from a video posted online.

6.56pm BST

The official death toll for the van attack still stands at one, although local media are reporting that as many as 13 could be dead. Police say 32 people have been injured, 10 of them seriously.

Catalonia’s interior minister Joaquim Forn told reporters: “Unfortunately the number of fatalities will likely rise.”

6.54pm BST

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE says one suspect in the Barcelona van attack has been arrested.

6.47pm BST

The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has offered his condolences for the loss of life in Barcelona. He also warned terrorists they would be brought to justice in the wake of the Las Ramblas attack.

Terrorists around the world should know, the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice.

6.36pm BST

The attack took place in central Barcelona. Las Ramblas, a street of stalls and shops that cuts through the centre of Barcelona, is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. People walk down a wide, pedestrianised path in the centre of the street, but cars can travel on either side.

6.34pm BST

A video posted to social media shows more than 12 injured people lying on the ground next to souvenir shops in front of Maccabi restaurant in Las Ramblas.

As well as uniformed emergency service personnel, a number of people dressed casually in shorts and t-shirts can be seen offering help and tending to the wounded.

6.33pm BST

Despite an appeal by Spanish police not to circulate images of those injured in the attack, there have been some graphic videos and images posted to social media this evening, as well as video that appears to depict the movements of armed police as they search for suspects.

Residents of Barcelona, and social media users from further afield, have tried to combat the spread of these images with a seemingly bizarre tactic – flooding the #barcelona hashtag with images of cute kittens.

6.31pm BST

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has tweeted his condolences.

He said: “My thoughts are with the victims of this barbaric terrorist attack in the great city of Barcelona and with their brave emergency services.”

London stands with Barcelona against the evil of terrorism.

6.28pm BST

Witnesses to the attack in Barcelona described how a white van hurtled through crowds without slowing down.

Many were forced to take shelter in nearby shops and hotels, while others reported hearing gunshots.

I heard screams and a bit of a crash and then I just saw the crowd parting and this van going full pelt down the middle of the Ramblas, and I immediately knew that it was a terrorist attack or something like that. I ran away, I mean I live near, I had to run back about 50 metres or so and go up to my flat and obviously see what’s happening on the road from my balcony.

We had just finished eating and were about to leave when we heard a commotion and the patrons in the restaurant rushing from their seats. I then saw people running to the east of the restaurant and I saw a couple of people, about 30 yards down the road, crouching around what looked like someone on the ground and they were calling for assistance. Within a couple of minutes, police started to arrive and they were running west of the restaurant and some were telling us to stay inside. Soon after, loads of cars, bikes and ambulances arrived and then the armed police.

6.17pm BST

For now we don’t know who was responsible for the attack, nor what the motive was.

However, we do know that the use of vehicles to drive into civilians is a mode of attack hugely difficult to stop.

6.13pm BST

Police have confirmed that one person has died and that 32 people have been injured, 10 of them seriously.

En aquests moments es confirma una víctima mortal i 32 ferits, dels quals 10 greus#Barcelona

6.05pm BST

In a tweet, Catalan police confirmed they were dealing with a terrorist attack.

“Terrorist attack confirmed,” they said. “The terrorist attack protocol has been activated.”

Es confirma atemptat terrorista. S’ha activat el protocol d’atemptat terrorista

5.58pm BST

TV3 says it now has “official” confirmation that 13 people are dead. It also says there are dozens of injured.

Eyewitness Lourdes Porcar told TV3 television station that she saw the van running people over. “It was going very fast, without caring about who was in its way,” she said.

5.52pm BST

The first pictures of the crashed van are appearing online.

5.52pm BST

Spanish radio station Cadena Ser radio is reporting that at least 13 people have died in the Barcelona incident, citing police sources. Spanish police have not given an official toll.

5.47pm BST

Aamer Anwar, civil rights lawyer and rector of Glasgow University, was on the Ramblas when the attack happened and ran for his life.

He saw scenes of terror after the attack:

It was jam packed with tourists, it was a beautiful sunny day. I heard a noise, a crashing noise. At the same time there were screams and people started to run. It was like an avalanche of people running, in front and behind me. People were jumping into shops, pulling their children out of prams. There was no room [on the Ramblas], it was swamped with families, children, and tourists. I saw a woman running, when we stopped she was screaming, because she could not see her children. Within 30 seconds I could see police officers with guns. One man told me there were five or six people seriously injured.

5.40pm BST

TV3 is reporting that “up to” six people are dead, but does not name its sources. The spokeswoman for a chain of 10 restaurants in the area said that some 600 people were stuck inside their restaurants, waiting for permission from the police to leave.

Those people may be having trouble communicating with friends because mobile phone coverage in the area is saturated.

5.38pm BST

The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice for UK citizens in Barcelona, telling them to avoid Las Ramblas.
“We are in contact with the Spanish authorities and seeking more information following an incident in Barcelona. Anyone in the area should follow the advice of the emergency services,” an FCO spokesperson said.
On the travel advice page for Spain on the FCO website, the updated advice says:

The British embassy in Madrid and consulate general in Barcelona are in contact with local authorities and urgently seeking further information following reports of an incident in central Barcelona.

Local authorities have advised people to stay inside and stay away from the Las Ramblas area of the city. If you’re in the immediate area you should take care and follow the advice of the local security authorities; press reports suggest that some public transport, particularly the metro, has been affected.

5.37pm BST

Spanish police have confirmed that an unknown number of people have died in the incident in Las Ramblas.

Local media have given various, unconfirmed tolls for the dead and injured.

18:15 Hi ha víctimes mortals i ferits arran de l’atropellament. NO hi ha hagut cap tiroteig a El Corte Inglés. Seguiu fonts oficials

5.31pm BST

The Spanish emergency services have told people in the area of Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona to stay where they are until told by police that they can leave.

Si os encontráis Si os encontráis en la zona de Plaza Cataluña en Barcelona quedaos donde estéis hasta que la policía diga que podéis salir

5.27pm BST

A producer at Sky News is at the scene on Las Ramblas and sent this dispatch:

Sky producer Mike Mawhinney said:

All around Las Ramblas, about three blocks off it, the streets are being completely locked off, people pushed back.

They’re searching the area for anything else, so obviously there’s the story you just mentioned about the restaurant, obviously a possible development.

5.23pm BST

The president of the government of Catalonia has called for “maximum caution” in the wake of the attack. He added that “all the attention” should be on the victims of the attack.

5.21pm BST

Around 80 people are currently sheltering in a church in Barcelona near the incident. Witnesses say that the doors are currently locked as reports circulate that there are possibly two armed men in a bar in the local area.

5.17pm BST

The Spanish police have asked people not to circulate images of the injured out of respect for their families.

Por respeto a las víctimas y a sus familias, por favor, NO compartas imágenes de heridos en atropello de #Ramblas de Barcelona

5.14pm BST

Jordi Lino, who was on a bus going down Las Ramblas, said:

First I saw people running and then the van. There were injured people in the middle of the Ramblas.

5.13pm BST

The Ministry of the Interior said on Twitter: “There has just been a massive crash on the Ramblas in Barcelona by a person with a van. There are injured.”

5.09pm BST

Police in Barcelona have asked people around Plaça Catalunya to stay indoors. They have urged those concerned about friends and family to use social media, rather than mobile phone calls, to get in touch with friends and relatives to avoid overloading phone networks.

#Barcelona #Rambles If you are ok, please Inform your family using social networks to avoid the collapse of phone lines

5.08pm BST

A witness has described seeing people lying on the ground after the crash.

Steven Turner, who works in the area, told the BBC:

People in my office saw a van ramming into people on La Ramblas. I saw about three or four people laying on the ground.

There are lots of ambulances and armed police with assault rifles around now.

5.01pm BST

The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, says he is in contact with all authorities following the Barcelona van crash and says the priority is to attend to the injured.

En contacto con todas las administraciones. Prioridad: atender heridos en Las Ramblas y facilitar la labor de las Fuerzas de Seguridad. MR

4.58pm BST

People on social media have been sharing videos of the crash on Las Ramblas, an area popular with tourists and locals. The videos appear to show people running away from cafes and restaurants.

Estampida ahora mismo en El Corte Inglés de Plaza Catalunya en Barcelona pic.twitter.com/72LLRmJjRk

4.58pm BST

Reuters are quoting local media as saying two armed men have entered a restaurant in Barcelona after the van crash. At the moment this news is only from a single source.

4.57pm BST

A van has crashed into pedestrians on Las Ramblas in the heart of Barcelona, which attracts thousands of tourists every day.

Police have said there has been a major incident in the key tourist spot and have confirmed it is being treated as a “terrorist attack”. It is understood that police have requested that metro stations be closed.

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