Terror returned to the streets of Spain on Thursday 17th August when a van ploughed into a crowd of people in Barcelona, killing at least 13 and injuring more than 100 others.
Citizens of 24 countries were among those killed and injured in Barcelona including one Belgian national who was confirmed to have died instantly.
The attack, which is the latest in a wave of vehicle ramming’s across Europe in recent years, caused panic on the streets of Spain’s largest city and drew condemnation from world leaders.
The vehicle used for the attack was rented. It sped along the pedestrian area that is popular with tourists, mowing down people and sending others fleeing for cover. Video footage of the scene showed dozens of bodies sprawled across the pavement in Las Ramblas.
The rented vehicle used for the attack belonged to a man named Driss Oubakir. The police have arrested and also released a photo of him. The local media say he is a Moroccan in his twenties.
However, latest reports suggest he has told the police he was not involved, and that his documents were stolen.
Two other men, one of Spanish descent and the other Moroccan were arrested, but the police have said the driver of the van was still at large.
The second arrested man, a Spanish national from Melilla, has not been named. The third person, who was arrested in the Spanish city of Ripoll on Friday morning, is believed to be an associate of Oukabir and not the van driver, who fled unarmed and remains on the run.
In a further twist, Josep Lluis Trapero of the regional police of Catalonia said police suspected a deadly explosion late on Wednesday at a house in Alcanar 124 miles south of Barcelona was linked to the van attack.
Trapero said the explosion left at least one person dead, and police suspected those in the house were “preparing an explosive device.”
Adding to the list of events, in the early hours of Friday 18th August, in the town of Cambrils, 70 miles away from Barcelona, at least six people were injured when “alleged terrorists” drove into pedestrians before being shot dead by security forces.
The five terrorists who were wearing fake suicide belts were shot dead by the police after ramming civilians with a car in a Spanish seaside town in a second attack to hit the country in less than 48 hours. Officials revealed that they believe a gas canister atrocity was being planned.
Seven people, including a police officer, were injured in the vehicle attack in Cambrils – hours after the 70-mile incidence in Barcelona.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has claimed responsibility for the attack, the deadliest on Spanish soil since more than 190 people died in the Madrid train bombs in 2004. The attack happened at the height of the season in one of Europe’s top tourist destinations and is the first to hit Spain in 13 years.
Barcelona and Cambrils are just the latest European cities to witness the terrible effects of a vehicle attack on an iconic or “soft” target – civilians. Many have been reported to be missing including a seven-year-old boy who was separated from his injured mother during the rampage.