Horrific video taken after a van plowed into people on the Las Ramblas strip in Barcelona showed dead bodies strewn around, barely conscious victims struggling to move, and pools of blood dotting the popular pedestrian avenue.
Those who witnessed the horrific scenes insisted that this was no accident, and that the man behind the wheel drove his vehicle so as to claim as many victims as possible.
“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,” witness Tom Gueller told the BBC. “It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds.”
A taxi driver who witnessed the attack told TV3 that the van swerved from side to side.
His account appeared to be mirrored by that of a woman who told French news channel BFMTV that the van zigzagged from side to side to hit a maximum number of pedestrians.
Those who were in the immediate area when the attack occurred reported scenes of panic in the immediate aftermath, before they were instructed by police to stay indoors until the area was secured.
Dutch tourist Tamara Jurgen told the Associated Press that she was in a Zara clothing store steps from Placa de Catalunya, a huge square from where Las Ramblas begins, when the attack took place.
“We had to run up to the roof and throw our bags over a wall. We were all together along this wall and we were scared we were going to have to jump,” Jurgen said, adding that she and others were held inside for over two hours until police cleared the block.
Another tourist filmed a video from inside the cafe showing first responders tending to a victim. The video shows Spanish police arriving at the scene, and patrons in the cafe applauding in a show of solidarity upon being offered drinks by cafe workers.
Keith Fleming, an American expat living just off Las Ramblas, said he went out to his balcony after he heard a loud bang, and saw petrified women and children running down the street. Police arrived shortly thereafter and cleared the area, and asked people to stay indoors.
Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Islamic State, according to a statement published by the group’s Amaq news agency.
“The perpetrators of the Barcelona attack are soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting coalition states,” the statement said.
If the involvement of Islamist militants is confirmed, the Barcelona attack would be the latest in a string of vehicle attacks to wreak terror on the streets of European cities, following on from similar attacks in Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm.
Police named Driss Oukabir, a Moroccan citizen in his 20s, as a suspect in the attack. It’s not clear yet if or how Oukabir was involved in Islamic State operations prior to this attack.
– With files from Reuters and the Associated Press