At Least 13 Dead, More Than 100 Injured In Barcelona Van Attack
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Thirteen people are dead after a van plowed into a crowded historic pedestrian street in Barcelona, Las Ramblas. Officials say about 100 are injured, many critically. Police are calling it a terror attack. They say they've arrested two people related to this attack but are still looking for the driver of the van. ISIS has claimed responsibility.
For more on this story, we've reached reporter Guy Hedgecoe, who's following it from Madrid. Thanks for joining us.
GUY HEDGECOE: It's a pleasure, Robert.
SIEGEL: And can you tell us anything more about this attack? What have witnesses been saying about it?
HEDGECOE: Well, this van - white Fiat van drove off the road and onto the Ramblas, which is a large boulevard that runs from central Barcelona down to the seaside. And it's a huge attraction for tourists who visit Barcelona. And Barcelona's a very touristy town. And the van went off the road, onto the boulevard and just plowed through people. And the man driving the van fled immediately. Authorities are still searching for him. As you've mentioned, those two other arrests have been made.
HEDGECOE: The investigation is ongoing. There are still a lot of unknown ends to be tied up.
SIEGEL: Have the police or other authorities said anything about the two suspects who have been arrested?
HEDGECOE: Well, one of the men who we're told has been arrested is called Driss Oukabir, a man who apparently was born in Morocco but has been living in Spain more recently. He apparently is the man who rented the - he hired the van in the first place from outside Barcelona, and that was how they got onto him.
We don't know a great deal about him. We know that he's been - he was imprisoned for a short period a few years back for sexual assault back in 2012. We don't know a great deal more about him. And we know next to nothing about the other person who has been arrested.
SIEGEL: The police have said there was an explosion in a town south of Barcelona that might be linked to this attack. What can you tell us about that?
HEDGECOE: Well, this is sort of the very latest development. Last night, there was an explosion on the property in a town called Alcanar, which is also in the region of Catalonia where Barcelona but sort of on the other side of it. And one person was killed. Apparently it was a gas explosion.
We don't know why the police are linking that to today's attack, but they appear to feel that there could be some kind of link either between the people involved or the property or the activities on the property. So that seems to be pretty clear at the moment regarding the investigation. We're hoping to hear more about that in the coming hours.
SIEGEL: And just very briefly, there was a notorious I guess al-Qaida-related bombing in Madrid in the trains years ago. But Barcelona and recently, has there been anything like this?
HEDGECOE: No, there hasn't been anything like this in Spain since that bombing that you mentioned in Madrid in 2004 in which 191 people were killed. So this comes as a huge shock. Having said that, I think the authorities were perhaps worried that something like this might happen. We've seen similar attacks in France, U.K. and Germany. And so I think they were worried that something similar might happen in Spain. It's such a big draw for tourists.
SIEGEL: Reporter Guy Hedgecoe in Madrid, thanks.
HEDGECOE: It's a pleasure. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.