Onlookers in Barcelona in the aftermath of a fatal van attack.
Reuters

The driver targeted the city’s pedestrian heart in the incident, which killed 14 people and injured many more.

Updated: August 17, 2017

At least 14 people have been killed and 100 or more are injured in what police and the Spanish media are describing as a terrorist attack in Barcelona’s main pedestrian street Thursday afternoon. The incident is now believed to have been linked to two others in towns south of Barcelona.

According to La Vanguardia, around 5 p.m. a white van rammed through the central area of Las Ramblas, the historic pedestrian district, finally crashing into a newsstand, leaving a trail of injured people.

Authorities say the attack seems to be linked to two other incidents: An explosion at a house in Alcanar, and a potential thwarted attack by a group of five suspects wearing fake suicide belts in Cambrils. Police killed the five individuals in Cambrils, and arrested several others believed to be involved.

Las Ramblas is the heart of the touristic life of Barcelona: A diagonal street that crosses the grid of the city’s center, it connects some of the milestones of the city, starting in the Placa de Catalunya—a main square and transportation hub—and ending in the Columbus monument next to the Mediterranean coast. Tourists and locals use it to stroll to places like La Boquería, the famous food market of Barcelona; El Liceu, the opera house; and the Palace Güell, one architect Antoni Gaudí’s major works.

Witnesses describe seeing the van weaving through crowds at high speeds in the center of Las Ramblas before crashing into a newsstand near La Boquería.

(Social Media/Reuters)

Thursday’s violence echoes recent incidents in London, New York, and Charlottesville, in which drivers used vehicles as weapons in targeting spaces that are built to attract pedestrians. Barcelona is renowned as a beacon of walking-friendly street design. In an effort to control pollution and restore access to public space, Colau has been implementing a plan of car-free “superblocks,” areas where only service vehicles are permitted, diverting vehicle traffic to surrounding streets and allowing pedestrians and cyclists to predominate.

Las Ramblas, which has been a magnet for strollers for more than two centuries and boasts a pavement mosaic designed by Joan Miro, is adjacent to some of the first superblocks. Other world cities have expressed admiration and interest in emulating the Barcelona traffic plan.

We will continue to update this post with additional information.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    How Australia Conquered Guns, and Why America Can't

    Gun control advocates point to Australia for inspiration in ending gun violence. The Australian Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, thinks they should stop.

  2. Equity

    How Structural Racism is Linked to Higher Rates of Police Violence

    It's not just implicit racial bias. According to a new study, state policies are also a determinant factor in police shootings that disproportionately target African Americans.

  3. Transportation

    How Seattle Is Winning the War on the Car Commute

    Despite massive job growth, just 25 percent of workers drove themselves in 2017.

  4. Environment

    Why Rural Brits Outlive Rural Americans

    A landmark study from 1842 found that even low-income country dwellers in the U.K. lived longer than their more-affluent urban neighbors; 175 years later, the story hasn’t changed much.

  5. Transportation

    Are Dockless Bikes a Cybersecurity Threat?

    The new mobility mode is generating a lot of rider data. It’s fair to ask where it’s likely to end up.