More than a dozen killed in car-ramming attack on crowded Barcelona boulevard - World Jewish Congress

More than a dozen killed in car-ramming attack on crowded Barcelona boulevard

More than a dozen killed in car-ramming attack on crowded Barcelona boulevard

Car

Thirteen people were killed and 50 wounded in central Barcelona Thursday afternoon after a van plowed into pedestrians in the crowded Las Ramblas district, a wide boulevard popular with tourists around a five-minute walk from the ancient Sinagoga Mayor de Barcelona. The Spanish authorities are investigating the incident as a terrorist attack.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said following the attack that WJC harshly condemned the “heinous act of violence and carnage, and is carefully monitoring this situation with concern.”

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this attack and their families, and with all the people of Barcelona. We are monitoring the events as they unfold with care and concern, and are in touch with the local Jewish community and its security groups. We pray that there will be no more victims.”

Israel’s Channel 10 reported that Meir Bar Chen, the city’s Chief Rabbi, said that while Jewish institutions had been closed down as a precaution, the attack did not appear to be aimed at Jews. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has stated that it does not know of any Israeli casualties.

"A few minutes ago, I spoke with the head of the Spanish Jewish community about the horrific terror attack that took in Barcelona this evening,” Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement Thursday evening. "I conveyed to him my condolences and prayers for the wounded, and made it clear the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs would aid the community in any way possible.”

While the circumstances are still unclear, it appeared two attackers may be holding hostages in an nearby bar, several media outlets have reported. Videos of the crash showed several bodies in the street.

“In contact with all administrations. Priority: tend to the injured in Las Ramblas and facilitate the work of security forces,” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted following the attack.

Mike Mawhinney, a Sky News producer, was quoted by The Independent, saying that “all around Las Ramblas, about three blocks off it, the streets are being completely locked off, people pushed back...When I arrived on the scene I saw two wounded people lying on the pavement, one was getting picked up and put onto a stretcher and lowered onto the ambulance and stretchered out, that looked quite serious….Everybody’s been thrown into buildings, locked in, everyone’s told to get off the street. They pushed everybody back at least three blocks off the Las Ramblas as they were searching the areas.”

Aamer Anwar, an eyewitness, told Sky that Las Ramblas was “jam packed” at the time.

‘All of a sudden, I just sort of heard a crashing noise and the whole street just started to run, screaming. I saw a woman right next to me screaming for her kids. Police were very, very quickly there, police officers with guns, batons, everywhere. Then the whole street started getting pushed back...And literally within probably 30 seconds, police vans, ambulances, police officers with guns, were piling out and we were being sectioned off and then being pushed rapidly back down Ramblas."

The aftermath of the attack was chaotic and panicky, he continued, describing how another witness told him that he had seen "five or six people” wounded on the street.

Police have identified Driss Oukabi, of Moroccan origin, as the man who rented the van used in the attack. Jewish Agency spokesman Avi Mayer posted a screenshot of a video allegedly posted on Facebook (and since taken offline) by Oukabi. It claimed that “the goyim (non-Jews) only serve to be slaves of the Jews, to kill a [gentile] is not sin, [but] like killing a dog."

Europe has seen a number of vehicular attacks since last year, including three in London and two in Paris and Berlin, each of which involved the use of a truck and killed 86 and 12 respectively. This past Saturday a white supremacist rammed a car into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville, VA, killing one.

Israel has experienced numerous such attacks, both successful and attempted, over the past decade, including several times this year.